Book Review: Santa Anna of Mexico


by Will Fowler

Lincoln, Nb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. Pp. xxvi, 501. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN:0803211201

One of the most reviled figures in Mexican history, and a villain to Americans as well, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna would seem to have no redeeming qualities.  But in this work, Prof. Fowler, of the University of Saint Andrews, does a good job of finding quite a few. 

Noting that much of Santa Anna's reputation is based on tradition, and the propaganda of his enemies, Fowler reviews the record, consulting documentary evidence often overlooked or ignored, to present us with a more complex figure than the well known vainglorious villainous opportunist. 

The final picture is of a man not much different from most of Mexico's leaders of the age; ambitious, deceitful, corrupt, and opportunistic, to be sure, but also brave, smart, a good commander and manager, and certainly a patriot.  The principal flaw in the work is that Fowler might have given more attention to Santa Anna's military skills, which were considerable; he was probably the best general among the Mexican commanders of his times. 

A good read for anyone interested in Mexico , or the Texas War for Independence , or the Mexican-American War.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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