The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

writing is good. What we have here is an important topic, well re-
searched and clearly presented. That makes for good history and an
excellent book.
University of Georgia GILBERT C. FITE
Capitalists, Caciques, and Revolution: The Native Elite and Foreign
Enterprise in Chihuahua, Mexico, 1854-r1911. By Mark Wasser-
man. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984. Pp.
232. Acknowledgments, introduction, tables, bibliography, index.
$27.)
In this good book, Capitalists, Caciques, and Revolution, Mark Was-
serman is searching for the origins of the Mexican Revolution in the
northern (border) state of Chihuahua. His conclusions are not origi-
nal, which certainly is not to say that they are wrong. He finds that the
rapid growth of an export economy, based on mining and cattle, pro-
duced a capitalistically minded, aggressive middle class that was frus-
trated in its ambitions by the monopolistic political and economic
controls exercised in the state by one extended family-the Te-
rrazas. The effects of this stranglehold were exacerbated by the world-
wide depression of 1907, followed by two years of drought and then an
early freeze that interrupted years of spectacular economic growth and
plunged new entrepreneurs into bankruptcy and despair, which they
believed could be reversed only by revolution. Meanwhile, common
people had over the years suffered sufficient usurpation of their lands
and political autonomy to make them ready recruits for a rebellion
led by the aspiring middle sector.
Wasserman supports his thesis by studying the evolution of the
Terrazas clan in the context of Chihuahuan politics and by drawing
upon economic statistics gleaned from a variety of sources, such as
official government reports, newspapers, trade journals, and diplo-
matic correspondence.
Of course, the revolution is an albatross around the necks of stu-
dents of modern Mexican history. Virtually all nineteenth- and twen-
tieth-century history of the country is interpreted in terms of the revolt:
What caused it? What were the results? Data and documentation are
analyzed not for what they might reveal about contemporary society
but for what they may indicate about the oncoming or just-past revolu-
tion. It is as if historians have been hypnotized by the official rhetoric
of the nation's dominant political party, the Institutional Revolu-
tionary Party (PRI). Wasserman is no exception to this generality, and

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed August 29, 2014.