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The Dead March: A History of the…
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The Dead March: A History of the Mexican-American War (edition 2017)

by Peter Guardino (Author)

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Title:The Dead March: A History of the Mexican-American War
Authors:Peter Guardino (Author)
Info:Harvard University Press (2017), 512 pages
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The Dead March: A History of the Mexican-American War by Peter Guardino

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While not quite an "everything you know is wrong" sort of book Guardino does make a strong argument that the notion American victory in the war rested on superior national consciousness and patriotism has little basis in fact. Guardino clearly illustrates that there was a wide-spread national consciousness in Mexico, if also deep divides over what sort of country Mexico should be, while dryly noting that the late unpleasantness of the 1860s shows the shallowness of American national consciousness; people fight for many more reasons than some abstract sense of national unity. Frankly, the only real advantage United States had over Mexico was economic; but while that was more than enough to secure conventional victory it was not enough to facilitate a total annexation of the Mexican state. Unfortunately this is a lesson that American politicians continue to be unwilling to learn; Guardino being cheerfully willing to link unpleasant trends of the 19th century to those of the 21st century if they seem based on the same sort of bad attitudes and social dysfunction. ( )
  Shrike58 | May 17, 2018 |
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"By focusing on the experiences of ordinary Mexicans and Americans, The Dead March offers a clearer historical picture than we have ever had of the brief, bloody war that redrew the map of North America. Peter Guardino invites skepticism about the received view that the United States emerged victorious in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) because its democratic system was more stable and its citizens more loyal. In fact, heading into the war, American forces dramatically underestimated the strength of Mexicans' patriotism and failed to see how bitterly Mexicans resented America's claims to national and racial superiority. Having regarded the United States as a sister republic, Mexicans were shocked by the scope of America's expansionist ambitions, and their fierce resistance surprised U.S. political and military leaders, who had expected a quick victory with few casualties. As the fighting intensified over the course of two years, it claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and at least twice as many Mexicans, including many civilians. As stark as they were, the misconceptions that the Mexican-American War laid bare on both sides did not determine the final victor. What differentiated the two countries in battle was not some notion of American unity and loyalty to democracy but the United States' huge advantages in economic power and wealth--advantages its poorer Latin American neighbor could not hope to overcome."--Jacket.… (more)

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