I read this book to get a broad overview of Mexican history, and was not disappointed. I’m not usually a fan of the Great Man style of historical writing, but perhaps it was justified in this case. Mexico has certainly had its share of charismatic or despotic leaders, as well as ones who were just odd and hapless, such as Francisco Madero.
There have been so many opportunities for real social change squandered by leaders who became intoxicated with power and by those who refused to exercise power when they had the chance. The revolution of 1910 could have resulted in the destruction of the hacienda system and a genuinely democratic society, but turned instead into an institutionalized version of the Porfirio Diaz regime, giving only lip service to land and labor reform but existing in reality primarily to serve the interests of the ruling classes.
But, who knows, despite the recent electoral victory by PRI, maybe change is in the air. The new Zapatistas seem to have widespread support, and Lopez-Obrador came a close second in the presidential election despite widespread election fraud, propaganda, and intimidation. So perhaps Mexico will one day become a truly democratic society. I hope so.