Catalogue

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Xuxub must die : the lost histories of a murder on the Yucatan /
Paul Sullivan.
imprint
Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press, c2004.
description
260 p.
ISBN
0822942305 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press, c2004.
isbn
0822942305 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
Promises of quiet -- The road to Xuxub -- Protection -- Between strength and weakness -- The will of god -- Hubris -- Unnatural cruelty -- Suitable measures -- Worldly satisfaction.
catalogue key
5166614
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Paul Sullivan, author of Unfinished Conversations: Maya and Foreigners between Two Wars, lives in north-central Massachusetts
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2004-12-01:
Independent scholar Sullivan reopens files on a long-forgotten crime, a murder on October 11, 1875, in the remote northeastern corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. Robert L. Stephens's first two years managing the frontier sugar plantation of Xuxub were most promising, but then the manager ran afoul of local political authorities. As a US citizen, he demanded that the US consul in Merida investigate plots against his estate. Before any action could be taken, however, raiders under Mayan rebel chieftain Bernardino Cen attacked Xuxub, murdering Stephens and several workers. The local militia killed Cen, and his severed head remained a grisly trophy at the state capital for many years. Meanwhile, Stephens's murder led to legal and diplomatic maneuvering that involved a fascinating cast of characters: scheming land owners, a corrupt military commander, a naive US consul agent, and Stephens's destitute widow, who pleaded with the US president to demand justice and compensation from Mexico. The case was never resolved, but by reopening its files, Sullivan demonstrates fascinating links between an incident in a remote provincial setting, Mexico's struggle for respectability and economic progress during the rule of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1910), and the thorny nature of diplomatic relations between the US and Mexico. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. E. H. Moseley emeritus, University of Alabama
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-02-09:
In October 1875 a group of Maya rebels attacked an obscure sugar plantation, Xuxub, on the northern portion of the Yucat n peninsula, killing the American co-owner, Robert Stephens, and his laborers, including men, women and children. The next day many of the rebels were overtaken by government troops and killed. Anthropologist Sullivan, whose previous book also centered on the problematic relationship of the indigenous Mayas and the predominantly Hispanic government, tries to put the event in perspective and discover why it occurred. Early on, Sullivan asks, "Why dig it up again?" He answers that the Maya remember the event as a kind of triumph, while the Mexican and American establishments remember it not at all; by studying it, we "might recover something lost, something we should recall." Although there is something to learn from Xuxub, it will not be, for many readers, as much as Sullivan hopes. His research on every facet of historical context is impeccable, and the tangled array of personal, cultural and political factors is well explicated. But there is too much historical minutiae to sustain continuous interest. Part of the problem is that Sullivan is overly fond of dramatic sentences like, "The day had come" and "They would learn to fear him among all others...." He also spends too much time on the less relevant political aftermath, especially concerning Stephens's widow. Still, those with a special interest in Latin American history will find this retrieval of lost history of interest. Maps. (Apr. 18) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, February 2004
Wall Street Journal, May 2004
Choice, December 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In 1875 an American plantation owner & a number of his workers were killed by a band of Maya Indians at Xuxub in the Yucatan. To this day the provocation remains shrouded in mystery, while six decades of US-Mexican wrangling over the affair have been forgotten.
Unpaid Annotation
In 1875 an American plantation manager named Robert Stephens and a number of his workers were murdered by a band of Maya rebels. To this day, no one knows why. Was it the result of feuding between aristocratic families for greater power and wealth? Was it the foreseeable consequence of years of oppression and abuse of Maya plantation workers? Was a rebel leader seeking money and fame -- or perhaps retribution for the loss of the woman he loved? Sullivan masterfully weaves the intricately tangled threads of this story into a fascinating account of human accomplishments and failings, in which good and evil are never quite what they seem at first, and truth proves to be elusive.
Unpaid Annotation
In 1875, an Irish-American plantation owner and several workers were murdered at Xuxub, a remote outpost in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Everyone knew they died at the hands of Mayan rebels, but the motive and who was ultimately responsible has remained a mystery. Sullivan masterfully weaves the intricately tangled threads of this story into a fascinating account of human accomplishments and failings, in which good and evil are never quite what they seem. Book seeks not only to fathom a mystery, but also to explore the nature of guilt, blame, and understanding.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Terrible Beautyp. 1
Promises of Quietp. 11
A Dangerous Pathp. 27
Protectionp. 44
Between Strength and Weaknessp. 55
The Will of Godp. 77
Hubrisp. 101
Unnatural Crueltyp. 122
Suitable Measuresp. 146
Worldly Satisfactionp. 167
Epilogue: Truth, Guilt, and Narrativep. 176
Acknowledgmentsp. 193
Abbreviationsp. 195
Notesp. 197
Indexp. 257
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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