– a Book Review
Mexican Streets Tales of Tragedy and Triumph by David Ellison is an appropriately named book that lives up to the promise of its title. Elizabeth Lyon wrote a book, Find Your Novel’s Best Title, and although Ellison’s book is more a history book than novel, he wrote the perfect title because he gives his readers what to expect, plus a bit more by enlightening the reader about the history for each street name.
The book is divided into ten epochs, beginning with Pre-Columbian Méxicoand ending appropriately with Modern Times. At the back of his book Ellison provides his readers with an excellent index which allows readers, researchers to quickly look up a character or event that might be of particular interest. Of course, no book based on street names will include all historical figures that might be of interest because naming streets depends on many variables. However, Ellison has compiled a truly impressive assortment of street names as well as including eighty-two photos and drawings to add veracity and interest to his tales and histories.
It was both humorous and sad to read his introduction Los Niños Héroes and realize that Ellison, like so many, are or were ignorant about the fact that the U.S. armed forces invaded the sovereign country of Mexico. “From the Halls of Montezuma,” the U.S. Marines´ anthem refers to the battle as they fought their way up Chapultepec, which was once the summer palace of Montezuma. Kudos go to Ellison for educating himself and sharing what he has learned through his easy-to-read book. Ellison´s book misses several opportunities to elaborate on his reviews of Mexican history. An example is the fewer than 100 words about the revolutionary Ignacio López Rayón. With a little more research Ellison could have brought Rayón to life. Yet, with so many prominent personages reviewed, Ellison selected those he thought would be the most interesting and that is certainly a daunting undertaking with so many street names and histories to select from.
Mexican Streets is excellent for an overview of Mexican history and events. I recommend purchasing at least two copies. One for your coffee table and a second for your guest quarters. If you have young people in your family, or even high school people, this would be an excellent gift to pique an interest in Mexican history and because it is written in an easy style and has a photo or drawing about each subject, there is an added appeal that makes the book not just educational but also visually appealing.
My biggest criticism is his use of parentheses at the end of many biographies, where he inserts his personal thoughts or comments. Although, as a teacher, Ellison may have encouraged his students to use parentheses to share their thoughts, as an adult reader and student of history, I find his personal comments a constant distraction.
Still, I genuinely recommend Mexican Streets as a quick and easy guide to understanding Mexican history, culture and politics.
You may order your copies through Amazon and they deliver to Canada, the USA and México, or purchase through Barnes & Noble.
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