From the Stacks: Five Exceptional Books About Mexico (Gringo Edition)

Books about Mexico

As you may have suspected, the life of a freelance writer is no cake walk. But there are perks. Like getting free books in the mail. The other day I received the latest from Tony Burton, Mexican Kaleidoscope: Myths, Mysteries, and Mystique. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I have high hopes. Burton is one of the best. Which got me thinking about my  favorite Mexico books and reminded me that it’s been some time since […]

Read more »

Book Review: Narcocorrido by Elijah Wald

note: Click on links for music. Would you rather listen to gangster rap, country music, or polka?  If you cringed in horror at any of the three options, well, brace yourself. If you answered, “All three!” then you probably already know your Tigres from your Tucanes. Whatever your musical tastes, the blood-splattered accordion-happy world of the Mexican narcocorrido is a fascinating place to visit. In Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerillas, folklorist and musician Elijah Wald explains […]

Read more »

Book Review: El Narco

I shouldn’t be reviewing this book or recommending it to our readers. As an editor for a travel site and managing editor for The People’s Guide to Mexico, one of my goals is to, you know, encourage people to go to Mexico. It’s my job to say that your fears about Mexico are overblown, that the media is mongering fear, that our vision of modern Mexico is skewed by the press, that vast portions of Mexico are still safe, that […]

Read more »

Book Review: The Ultimate Hang

Hammocks were a big deal in my family. We had opinions about hammocks. I was raised with the gospel of hammocks, and I never deviated. The best hammocks in the world are woven in the Yucatan Peninsula. In a perfect world, one would always buy one’s hammock by the kilo at an ancestral cave-like Merida hammock shop. Cotton thread, not acrylic. Ropes should not be tied directly to the hammock ends. One should lie in the hammock at a slight […]

Read more »

Book Review: Western Mexico: A Traveler's Treasury

From the shores of Lake Patzcuaro to the cloud forest of Manatatlán to the mines of Zacatecas, Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury takes the armchair traveler on a tour of western Mexico’s treasures, many of them little known. The author, geographer Tony Burton, gets off the beaten path time and time again, and provides detailed historical and cultural information about towns that many guidebook authors only mention in passing: La Barca, San Juan de los Lagos, Tamazula, and Lagos de Moreno, […]

Read more »

Book Review: Diana Kennedy, Rendered Lard, and the Late, Great Steve Rogers

Originally published in June of 2012, republished for father’s day 2013, My dad Steve Rogers was a good cook, maybe even a great cook. He could turn what looked like nothing into something delicious, and his obsessive interest in traditional methods and ingredients was matched by a fearless creativity that led him far off the beaten path. When I was a little girl, I loved to sit and watch him in the kitchen. Watching Steve cook was like watching a […]

Read more »

Book Review: Alcohol in Ancient Mexico

I am not a big online shopper and I rarely have spare money, but there was no way I could restrain myself from ordering a book called Alcohol in Ancient Mexico. I’m sorry, but even I can’t actually come up with a title better aimed to entrap me. Cheese in Ancient Mexico comes close, but would of course have to be a fantasy, since obviously dairy products were not a part of the ancient Mexican diet. Not to, um, sound […]

Read more »

Book Review: The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

The story has plenty to lure the reader: banditry, kidnapping, hubris, madness; but it is a fine attention to detail, on both the factual and visceral levels, that distinguishes C.M. Mayo’s first novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. Drawing from original research and a nuanced understanding of Mexico, Mayo relates one of the country’s more fantastic historical episodes: Maximilian, an idealistic Austrian prince who, with French backing, is crowned emperor of Mexico in 1864. With his young wife, […]

Read more »

Book Review: Maya 2012 Revealed: Demystifying the Prophecy

The Mexican Government is predicting that the coming Maya apocalypse will create a tourism boom of 52 million visitors. The state is building a new hotel at Calakmul to deal with the influx, and government-sponsored, Maya-themed tourist events abound. When I first read about the official 2012 fanfare, I thought it sounded like a desperate gimmick, a weak attempt to use a thin premise to bolster flagging tourism. After all, it takes about 30 seconds with Google to discover that the supposed […]

Read more »

Book Review: Mexico City Noir

  I’m not a short story person. Reading a short story is like a conversation on a Greyhound: the getting-to-know-you process is accelerated to an uncomfortable pace and then you’re left hanging.  Mexico City Noir, a compilation of short mysteries presented by the estimable Paco Ignacio Taibo II, does not offer many exceptions to this rule. The book gets off to a harsh start with “I’m Nobody” by Eduardo Antonio Parra. The writing is strong, and the protagonist, a crazy homeless man […]

Read more »