Why did I love this book?
In this masterpiece of historical narrative, Paul Sullivan investigates the 1875 sacking of a sugar plantation (called Xuxub) and the murder of its American manager by Maya rebels. Located on the geographical frontier between “Ladino” and Maya society, Xuxub became a microcosm of all of the conflicts that haunted Mexico as it entered its “Guilded Age”: inter-elite rivalries, international competition in the wake of the U.S.-Mexico War, and the overwhelming fear that the nation’s Indigenous population would rise up against encroaching liberal capitalism. It all comes together in a murder mystery, written more like true crime than an academic text, right down to the final poetic twist. This is an immensely enjoyable read, so much so that I have read it no fewer than fifteen times.