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Benito Juarez and the French Intervention…
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Benito Juarez and the French Intervention (Story of Mexico)

by R. Conrad Stein

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Chronicles the struggles of Mexican president Benito Jur̀ez as he confronted the invading influence of the French Empire and reclaimed Mexico for its people.

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I selected this book to learn more information on Mexican history, as I will be visiting Mexico City in March. The Mexico City airport is named for Benito Juarez, so I saw this book as an opportunity to read about the person and the place. This non-fiction text reads somewhat like a history textbook, but the photographs, maps, and short vignettes set off by text boxes make for an entertaining read in some regard. I particularly enjoyed reading the section about Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian von Hapsburg and his wife Carlota, who were sent by Napoleon III of France to "rule" Mexico. As devout Catholics, the pair were first accepted by the Mexican people, and the two tried their best, for a while, to assimilate with the Mexican culture. However, in the end, Maximilian's belief in the divine power of kings was his undoing.

The map on page 40 that depicts land holdings of Mexico prior to 1839 reveal the region that now comprises much of the western United States. Mexican-Spanish influence in this part of the United States could be explored by students. Also, this book could accompany a study on how nations form and how many monarchies eventually lose influence. The art that depicts scenes of the time, such as Edouard Manet's painting of the execution of Maximilian and his generals or the Manifest Destiny painting (John Gast's American Progress) could be analyzed. Connections are plenty with American history that is studied in eighth grade. Furthermore, history lessons even for elementary students could emphasize that Santa Fe, New Mexico was settled in 1610, ten years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth. ( )
  SueStolp | Feb 28, 2016 |
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