Saturday, May 20, 2006

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The AMLO we know... sorta.

At last, an American study, but a "respectable political scholar" of AMLO... too bad its only available in Spanish. As the always perceptive Kelly Arthur Garrett writes in today's Herald,
Grayson’s critical biography had been eagerly awaited (at least by me) as a potential corrective to the ever-expanding line-up of love-him-or-hate-him AMLO books piling up at Sanborn’s. Grayson, a professor of government at William & Mary College in Virginia, is one of the foremost U.S. authorities on Mexican politics and society, and has been for many decades. That puts him in a position to deliver what we’ve needed — a well-researched, fact-filled, fully footnoted, thoroughly indexed biography in English of the most consequential and least understood human being in Mexico today. Now we have it, except for the “in English” part. For some reason, “Mesías Mexicano” has only been published in the Spanish translation. That’s too bad, since monolingual Anglophones bored with “fiery leftist” and “populist” as handy AMLO definitions are denied an alternative mask for him — “Messiah.”
Grayson is William and Mary's George Grayson, the Class of 1938 Professor of Government and the favorite Mexico expert of folks like Bill O'Reilly and the conservative (er, even more conservative) wing of the Republican Party. With articles in "stellar" publications like David Horowitz's Front Page ("Feathering Their Casa", April 28, 2006), and his involvement with the "Center for Immigration Studies" it's easy to dismiss this as another yanquí imperalista complot. Still, the guy is a reputable scholar..
For the record, “Mesías Mexicano” isn’t just another AMLO- phobic tract. It is, after all, a biography, and the patient, forgiving reader will come out of it with a much better idea of who Andrés Manuel López Obrador is, as well as what George Grayson thinks of him. I especially liked the early chapter on AMLO’s boyhood and family history. Readers will appreciate the several charts and timelines that clarify some of the more Byzantine topics of Mexican politics, such as the background of the desafuero and the PRD’s internal factions.
Condescending and arrogant as he may be, the book is worth reading, if just for background on a a Mexican politician who doesn't fit any of the old rules, and I'm betting will be the next President.


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