The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970

Book Reviews

JIM B. PEARSON, Editor
The Political Evolution of the Mexican People. By Justo Sierra. Trans-
lated by Charles Ramsdall, Jr. (Austin: University of Texas Press,
1969. Pp. xx+406. Introduction, prologue, index. $8.50.)
The publication of Justo Sierra's sociopolitical treatise on Mexico's
transformation from the indigenous origins to its emergence as a
modern nation is an important contribution to neo-Mexican-American
historiography; it reveals for the first time in the English language the
penetrating views, however biased, of an influential public figure of
the Porfirian era. Moreover, the meticulous translation by Charles
Ramsdell, combined with the typographical technology of the Univer-
sity of Texas Press, have culminated in the production of a readable
and informative volume.
As a postivist thinker (or more precisely, a cientifico), Sierra was
convinced of the righteousness of Benito Juirez' struggle for consti-
tutional reform and of the utilitarian value of the material progress
of the succeeding administration. History, therefore, had to serve the
national interest, and in this context such a goal required patriotic
pride in the ideas and achievements of past statesmen and a sense of
purpose in contemporary affairs. Accordingly, Sierra structured his
work into three major sections of which one-the colonial period and
independence-was the most objective and replete with factual infor-
mation of a useful encyclopedic variety.
The longest section, not surprisingly, emphasized the turbulent
years of the Republic, extending from the advent of continuing an-
archy to the rise of General Porfirio Diaz, and included a detailed
discussion of the juarista program of reform and the French inter-
vention. Being an interested observer and participant of the latter
epoch, it was difficult for Sierra to maintain any semblance of objec-
tivity. Thus, he cast Juirez and his advisers as constitutional nation-
alists who, although capable of brutal retaliation against the reaction-
ary opposition, were correct in their quest for peace, reorganization,
justice, and territorial integrity. The result was a lengthy account of

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed November 22, 2014.