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Underdogs: With Related Texts: Pictures and Scenes from the Present Revolution [Paperback]

Mariano Azuela , Gustavo Pellon

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Book Description

1 Oct 2006
In addition to a fresh translation of Azuela's classic novel, this volume offers a substantial Introduction setting the work in its historical, literary, and political contexts. Related texts include contemporary reviews of Azuela's work, excerpts from John Reed's Insurgent Mexico, and selections from Azuela's correspondence.

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Underdogs: With Related Texts: Pictures and Scenes from the Present Revolution + Los de Abajo (Penguin Ediciones)
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  • Los de Abajo (Penguin Ediciones) 8.24

Product details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Co, Inc; Tra edition (1 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872208346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872208346
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 9 July 2007
By Eric Schroeder - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent timepiece about a specific part of the Mexican revolution. The translation is very good and the additional texts help to place the time and situation to the reader in a simple manner.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, good extras 11 Sep 2010
By Bureizu - Published on
I order this book and obtained it in no time. The story was a good read the the glossary in the back helped with understanding some if the terms used. This was an interesting read and an interesting look into the Mexican Revolution.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will the Revolution accomplish anything? 6 Feb 2014
By R. M. Peterson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Translator Gustavo Pellón writes that THE UNDERDOGS is "universally hailed as the most important novel of the Mexican Revolution and a foundational work of modern Mexican and Latin American literature". Thus, there are good reasons for students of certain nooks of history and literature to read it. But it also is a decent novel and reading it was rewarding for a generalist such as myself.

The novel follows one band of revolutionaries, led by Demetrio Macías (a full-blooded Indian) over a two-year time span (1913 to 1915). They are local, with local grievances. Local "caciques" call in the Federales to exterminate them, but Macías and his men prevail. With success, Macías attracts many new followers, his army swells, and he becomes entangled in the more national "Revolution". Living off the land, he and his men take to drinking, whoring, looting, and murdering -- oppressing the campesinos they encounter much like they had been oppressed by the caciques. They defeat the Federales, but the guerilla warfare continues, now among the different factions of revolutionaries (or, different warlords). At one point, one of Macías's key lieutenants blurts out, "But what I really can't get through my head is how come we gotta keep on fighting. . . . Didn't we lick the Federales?" THE UNDERDOGS (the Spanish title "Los de abajo" literally means "the ones below", or those on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder) poses the question, Will the Revolution accomplish anything?

That question is phrased prospectively rather than retrospectively (i.e., "DID the Revolution accomplish anything?") because Mariano Azuela actually wrote the novel during the Revolution, based in large part on his own experiences serving as a field doctor with the army of Julián Medina, one of Pancho Villa's supporters. Azuela eventually withdrew from the revolutionary whirlwind to El Paso, where he wrote and published THE UNDERDOGS in 1915.

For a novel from 1915, THE UNDERDOGS is remarkably modern. It also is quite realistic. Neither the peasants nor the revolutionaries are airbrushed or mythologized. The novel is profane and raunchy at times. It proceeds at near breakneck speed. There are some rough edges to the writing, and on occasion the dialogue is not convincing, especially when one of the characters launches into a hortatory or political speech. But the novel is good enough from a literary perspective to be more than an historical or regional curiosity.

There are at least two other English translations of THE UNDERDOGS currently in print, including one by Carlos Fuentes published by Penguin Classics. My guess is that the novel is assigned reading in many college courses and that the publishers are competing for sales to that captive audience. I can't offer an opinion as to which translation -- Pellón (Hackett Publishing) or Fuentes (Penguin) -- is better. Points in favor of this Hackett Publishing edition are that it includes an excellent afterword on the historical and literary context of the novel, a useful chronology and map, as well as fifty pages of "related texts" (two book reviews and excerpts from John Reed's "Insurgent Mexico" and Anita Brenner's "Idols behind Altars"). Plus, as of the posting of this review, this Hackett Publishing edition is a little cheaper than the Penguin Classics one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant author(s) 2 Sep 2012
By Kay Brown - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a history buff and especially interested in the South West and how it got that way,this selection of readings is marvelous. The translators choice of additional texts couldn't be improved. Mariano Azuela has an exceptional eye and his writing is a reflection of what he sees. Look forward to more Azuela. Brenner's "The Wind That Swept Mexico" would be a good companion.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mexicans love when you've read this book! 2 April 2014
By Atriportwo - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Was surprise at the length of the novel. Short. A very quick read, but loaded with nuances, implications, and effects of the Mexican Revolution. Loved this edition with the notes on the translation and the attached bibliography at the end. It was hard to imagine how this guerrilla band continued to function in total isolation to the rest of the revolution. Left me wondering how this all would have worked out without the addition of machine guns, airplanes, and bombs. Had the opportunity to talk about the book with a museum curator in Guadalajara. His excitement for my interest in Mexican history, resulted in a more in-depth explanation of the exhibits and an opportunity to hear the recorded voice of Guillermo Flores Reyes, the last known survivor of the Mexican Revolution.
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