A fascinating work that examines political recruitment practices in Mexico from the beginning of the second administration of Porfirio Díaz in 1884 until midway into the Salinas administration (1988-94), providing the reader with a snapshot of the formation of Mexico's political class over most of the twentieth century. Based on prodigious research over a 20-year period, Ai Camp, a professor of political science at Tulane University, has provided a timely and essential primer for those on Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street now worrying about the future of Mexico; they will find the social, educational, and political backgrounds of many of their Mexican interlocutors carefully dissected here. Ai Camp's research analyzes the composition of the opposition and warns, with the fate of the Porfiriato in mind, that "substantial intra-elite weaknesses appeared in the 1990s." He argues that under conditions of elite disunity, the introduction of democratic forms in the Third World tends to exacerbate such divisions. Ai Camp's book thus puts the political dilemmas of democratic transition at the center of the Mexican crisis. Only the near future will reveal whether his book is a monument to times past or a road map across a political elite that has skillfully co-opted, adapted, and consolidated itself, as it has over the decades, to remain essentially the same.
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