Two Eagles

Ricardo Sheffield

Publisher: AuthorHouse Pages: 442 Price: (paperback) $28.99 ISBN: 9798823000642 Reviewed: July, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

A binational background (U.S./Mexico) lends personal urgency to Riccardo Sheffield’s look at both nations’ stories, with plenty of facts and an engagingly idiomatic voice added to the mix.

Sheffield was born in the U.S. to a Mexican mother and American father, then raised largely in Mexico. The U.S. and Mexico have long-entwined histories, the author points out, yet oft-divergent destinies. Rather than proceeding through their histories chronologically, he tackles different topics from their past as a series of self-enclosed narratives.

These subjects include: both countries’ origins as colonies; their paths to independence and subsequent political development; their creation and amendment of constitutions; their invasions of each other; their civil wars (Mexico sadly holds the record); and their foreign wars (the U.S. is far more prolific).

Each chapter goes up to the present, sometimes disorientingly, as when Joe Biden appears (in the political chapter) before Pancho Villa does (in the civil war and invasion chapters). More seriously, some major errors appear when Sheffield ventures into general world history (discussing Mexico’s lesser-known WWII involvement, he has Germany and Japan surrendering simultaneously). On the plus side, his approach helps with comparisons, as when he contrasts the U.S.’s constitution, only rarely amended, with Mexico’s, amended over 700 times.

Attempts at humor are sometimes labored (never more so than when joking that “Cinco de Mayo” refers to mayonnaise lost at sea.) More successful is his use of adages and pithy sayings, as with Mexican president Porfirio Diaz’s famous “Poor Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United States.”

The issues most often discussed in the U.S.—border crossings and the drug war—appear but don’t dominate Sheffield’s discussion. As such, his unique perspective—he dubs himself an “American Mexican”—may be particularly illuminating for U.S. readers. Despite some missteps, he makes a solid argument that the two countries, despite past conflicts and ongoing tensions, enjoy a strong bond and mutual interests in the world.

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