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The Power of God Against the Guns of Government: Religious Upheaval in Mexico at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century [Paperback]

By Paul J. Vanderwood (Author) & Vanderwood Paul (Author)
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Item description for The Power of God Against the Guns of Government: Religious Upheaval in Mexico at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century by Paul J. Vanderwood & Vanderwood Paul...

In the early 1890's, an armed rebellion fueled by religious fervor erupted over a wide area of northwestern Mexico. At the center of the outburst were a few hundred farmers from the village of Tomochic and a teenage folk saint named Teresa, who was ministering to thousands of people throughout the area. When the villagers proclaimed, "We will obey no one but God ," the Mexican government exiled "Santa Teresa" to the United States and trained its guns and bayonets on the farmers. A bloody confrontation ensued--God against government--that is still remembered in song, literature, films, and civic celebrations.
The tangled roots of the conflict reach into Mexico's Indian past, stretch through its colonial experience, embrace the peculiar temperament of its Northerners, and encompass the ambitious program of rapid modernization launched by the government at the end of the nineteenth century. The government and its supporters had one vision of what they wanted Mexico to be; many villagers had a different view of what was right for them. Tomochic was split along fissures that had long marked local society, with religious dissenters reveling in the inspiration of Santa Teresa while others stood aside to await the government's resolution of the upheaval.
After suffering several humiliating defeats by the faithful, more than a thousand army troops placed Tomochic under siege. Fighting was fierce, and as the military tightened the noose on its prey, an image of Santa Teresa was seen rising to glory into the heavens above the burning village.
In the minds of many, Tomochic has come to symbolize a people's unending search for justice. Santa Teresa, in her day internationally known for miraculous healings, is still invoked by Mexican communities to help cure their social ills. Small wonder that only recently a young peasant rebel in Chiapas avowed: "I seek a decent life--liberation--just as God says."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Stanford University Press
Pages   409
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.96" Height: 0.89"
Weight:   1.29 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 1998
Publisher   Stanford University Press
Edition  New  
ISBN  0804730393  
ISBN13  9780804730396  

Availability  0 units.

More About Paul J. Vanderwood & Vanderwood Paul

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Paul Vanderwood is Professor Emeritus of History at San Diego State University and the author of several books on Mexican history.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > Mexico
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 19th Century > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Crime & Criminals > Criminology
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Power of God Against the Guns of Government: Religious Upheaval in Mexico at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century?

Illuminating and Entertaining  Mar 24, 2001
In this book Vanderwood achieves what he sets out to achieve and does so in colorful style. What stands out in this study of the 1892 religious revolt in Tomochic, Mexico is its fullness. Good historical scholarship is always an exploration of cause and effect. Here Vanderwood hunts down every person and group thought to be involved and searches for motivation; it's like a busy painting in which every detail is attended to. The conflict involved such a complex clashing of beliefs and values that a rich context is needed even to begin explaining it; fortunately the author realizes this and dives in headfirst. He gives a quite vivid account of the political, economic, social, and religious aspects of the incident. What mixture of circumstances could have led 50 townspeople to so resolutely reject modernity and Mexican government and place their trust entirely in God? And why did the bloody culmination happen as it did? Vanderwood addresses these questions and, in many ways, answers them. He falls short, however, in that he doesn't really get to the philosophical and ideological roots of the conflict. I'm not criticizing Vanderwood's execution as much as his choice of approach itself. At bottom this conflict was about vastly different views of the world. It was about what it means to be Catholic, Mexican, an individual in a society. It was about the nature of property rights, social and political autonomy, religiosity. It was about reason vs. faith and modernity vs. tradition. Vanderwood doesn't address such abstract themes; I realize they are enormous themes, and beyond his scope, but some mention of them would've been appreciated, especially given their glaring presence (and fundamentality) in the incident. In short, to truly understand what happened we need to know how and why those involved thought what they thought. Vanderwood's account is exhaustive but lacks this kind of depth. Another drawback is the author's general tone of admiration for the religious rebels. Whether their cause was admirable is not within his scope and certainly not supported one way or the other in the text, nor is it uncontroversial. Nevertheless, Vanderwood's book is an engaging read. He really has a wonderful writing style and a nuanced sense of presentation. And to be sure, he displays excellent scholarship. Given what he sets out to do, the execution is lovely.
Accurate, yet delightfully written!  Mar 25, 2000
Dr. Vanderwood, a recognized authority of the Mexican Revolution, has produced yet another valuable work for this segment of history. His ability to gather primary source information written in Spanish and miraculously transcribe into beautiful English prose not only compliments but also lends respect to the Mexican social consciousness that he knows all too well.

This is a "must read" for any student of modern Mexican history.

Sets highest standards in historical reconstruction  Jun 6, 1998
WINNER OF THOMAS F. MCGANN MEMORIAL PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK of 1998. The prize committee said in part: "Vanderwood's beautiful prose can only be compared to Mario Vargas Llosa's The War at the End of the World. The primary difference between these two grand books is that Vargas Llosa made it up. Vanderwood, by contrast, provides solid archival evidence for every line for his insightful reconstruction of Mexican popular religion and mentalidad. In short, Vanderwood's book is a classic. It sets the parameters for practioners of the New Cultural History, and is a model for the highest standards in historical reconstruction for Latin American scholars, indeed all scholars, everywhere."

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