Synthesizing a wealth of primary and secondary sources, Conflict and Carnage in Yucatan offers a fresh study of Yucatan's complex and vio-lent history that expands and revises perceptions of liberal as well as Second Empire politics in Yucatan from 1855 to 1876.The Yucatan peninsula has one of the longest, most multifaceted histories in the Americas. From the arrival of European explorers, native Mayan peoples with successful traditions and internecine conflicts grappled with outside forces attempting to graft a new template of life and politics on it by force. Conflict and Carnage in Yucatan provides a rigorously researched study of the vexed and bloody period of 1855 to 1876, during which successive national governments imposed, replaced, and restored liberal policies.Synthesizing extensive and heterogeneous sources, Douglas W. Rich-mond covers three tumultuous political upheavals of this period: first, how Mexico's fledgling republic attempted to impose a liberal ideol-ogy at odds with traditional Mayan culture on Yucatan; then, how the French-backed regime of Emperor Maximilian began to reform Yucatan; and finally how the republican forces of Benito Juarez restored the liberal hegemony. Many issues spurred resistance to the liberal governments. Imposition of free trade policies, the suppression of civil rights, and persecution of the Catholic Church mobilized white opposition to liberal governors. Mayans fought the seizure of their communal lands. A long-standing desire for regional autonomy united virtually all Yucatecans.Richmond analyzes these shifts precisely for scholars while remaining accessible to general readers fascinated by Mexico's complex history. He advances the thought-provoking argument that Yucatan both fared bet-ter under the Maximilian's Second Empire than under the liberal republic and would have thrived more had the Second Empire not collapsed.The most violent and bloody manifestation of these broad conflicts was the long-running Caste War (Guerra de Castas), the most severe and sustained peasant revolt in Latin American history. Where other scholars have advocated the simplistic position that the war was a Mayan upris-ing designed to re-establish a mythical past civilization, Richmond's sophisticated recounting of political developments from 1855 to 1876 restores nuance and complexity to this pivotal time in Yucatecan history.Conflict and Carnage in Yucatan is a welcome addition to scholarship about Yucatan and about state consolidation, empire, and regionalism.
Douglas W. Richmond is professor emeritus of history at the University of Texas at Arlington, USA. He is author of The Mexican Nation: Historical Con-tinuity and Modern Change and the coeditor of The Mexican Revolution: Conflict and Consolidation, 1910-1940 and Dueling Eagles: Reinterpreting the U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-1848, among other works.