Whether you are a professional scholar looking to dive deeper into the rich history of Mexico or just someone with an interest in defining events that made Mexico what it is today, these are the best Mexican history books that you’re going to want to read.
Top 6 Books on Mexican History
Villa and Zapata: A History of the Mexican Revolution
Consistently ranked as one of the very best books regarding Mexican history, particularly for those that want to learn more about the decade preceding and then following the Mexican Revolution of 1910, this is a colorful, exciting, and easy reading history of the country in two of its most famous outlaws.
Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata are two of the most defining individuals of this era in Mexican history, one leading a ruthless army of former Cowboys throughout the North and the other recruiting an army in the South from sugar plantations – both of them waging a multi-front war that brought down the aristocratic government of Mexico City during this revolution.
You’ll not only learn about these men and what made them tick but you’ll also learn about the events, history, and a moment in time that made them who they were and helped to make Mexico what is today.
Mesoamerican History: A Captivating Guide to Four Ancient Civilizations that Existed in Mexico
Compared to the book we just highlighted a moment ago this is much more scholarly, much more of a textbook than anything else, but still, one of the most complete titles anywhere when it comes to Mesoamerican history.
You’ll learn about the four ancient civilizations that existed throughout what is today modern Mexico, how they came to be and how they came to pass, and how all of these distinct civilizations came to coalesce and create the modern culture of Mexico as we know it today.
More exciting than it may appear at first, it isn’t hard to get lost in the 262 pages of rich Mexican history this title squeezes between the covers.
So Far from God: The U.S. War With Mexico, 1846-1848
The Mexican-American War of the 1840s really helped to define both nations, especially since the conflict manifested out of both countries claiming the same tract of land – Texas – for themselves without being afraid to spill bloodshed over that land, either.
You’ll learn about the lead up to this war, the important battles that turned the tides for both nations, but you’ll also learn about the March by General Winfield Scott that ended with the occupation of Mexico City and the treaty that followed.
This treaty between the United States and Mexico helped to establish the West for the US, granting them territory that would later become California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and even large parts of Wyoming and Colorado.
Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood
A New York Times bestseller (and you’ll find out why just a few pages into this great book), this title revolves around the discovery of a legendary lost city – a lost people, really – and how it changed the lives of the people of Mexico and the rest of the world profoundly.
The story begins in 1839 as rumors of a mystical city of stone ruins somewhere inside the unmapped jungles of Central America capture the attention of legendary adventurers and explorers John Lloyd Stephens (American) and Frederick Catherwood (British).
These men set sail out of New York City and lead an expedition that took them through the rain forests of Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, culminating in their discovery of the “Jungle of Stone” and leading to the world’s early fascination with the Mayan culture.
El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America
It’s easy to forget just how deep our Spanish roots grow here in America (particularly in the southern part of our nation), but this book really shines a light on those early adventurers and explorers that were here far before the Europeans ever considered carving their way across the continent.
You’ll learn that the Hispanic past of the United States is far older than the arrival of the pilgrims, but you’ll also learn that it is just as important as that history in creating the unified American culture that we celebrate so much today.
Everything from Ponce De Leon and his search for the Fountain of Youth, the Spanish control of the Louisiana territory, and the Mexican-American War are all covered inside of this detailed and well-sourced title.
Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs
Hernando Cortez reached The New World with one thing and one thing only on his mind – to discover the riches of this new continent, to capture as much of it as possible for Spain, and to return that wealth to this power of Europe as early as possible.
This story begins with Cortez strolling across an Aztec causeway in November of 1519, marching his men through the center of the capital city of this empire, and walking face-to-face with Moctezuma the leader of these proud people.
The story that follows tells the tale of what happens next, a story that has been told time and time again but almost always from the perspective of the Spanish. What you get here is unvarnished, unabashed, and unfiltered viewpoints from the Aztecs themselves – and that’s meant literally.
It turns out that the Aztecs were fascinated by the Roman alphabet and learned how to write their own language with these letters, detailing their histories that would have otherwise been lost to time.
Up until just recently, however, these sources were thought to be incomplete and impossible to translate. Thanks to major breakthroughs, however, almost all of these sources have been completely translated and the result is distilled into this narrative that you won’t be able to put down.
A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico
The Mexican-American War never gets quite as much attention as other famous wars and conflicts in the histories of these two nations – but this book shows just how misguided that lack of focus and attention really is.
Diving deep into the politics, the atrocities, and the backchannel negotiations that slammed the brakes on and rapidly accelerated this war (at the same time), you’ll learn how some of the most famous men in US and Mexican history cut their teeth during this conflict and how it informed the decisions they make years later during the Civil War.