In This Review

Rebellion in Chiapas: An Historical Reader
Rebellion in Chiapas: An Historical Reader
Edited by John Womack
The New Press, 1999, 372 pp

The author of the classic account of Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican revolution, Womack has returned triumphantly with an indispensable book. Combining his own penetrating analysis with a marvelous selection of readings, the book illuminates the key participants in the ongoing Chiapas drama. Coinciding deliberately with the 1994 signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the rebellion profoundly shook Mexico's optimism as it tried to leave its conflicted, bloody past behind. This rich history incorporates the roles of geography and social change, religion and politics, economic and social inequalities, ethnic identity, and individual actions to provide a powerful explanation of the crisis and its timing. Womack paints memorable descriptions of the key personalities involved, from the redoubtable Bishop Samuel Ru'z to Womack's former student, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The rebellion's leader, Subcomandante Marcos, was so attuned to the times that he used "endless, seductive argumentation" to bring his message to the media and the public. Womack's powerful account shows just how difficult it will be to find an easy way out of the Chiapas impasse.