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For Christ and Country
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: August 2019
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online ISBN: 9781108632492

Book description

Why did José de León Toral kill Álvaro Obregón, leader of the Mexican Revolution? So far, historians have characterized the motivations of the young Catholic militant as the fruit of fanaticism. This book offers new insights on how diverse sectors experienced the aftermath of the Revolution by exploring the religious, political, and cultural contentions of the 1920s. Far from an isolated fanatic, León Toral represented a generation of Mexicans who believed that the revolution had unleashed ancient barbarism, sinful consumerism, and anticlerical tyranny. Facing attacks against the Catholic essence of Mexican nationalism, they emphasized asceticism, sacrifice, and the redemptive potential of violence. Their reckless enthusiasm to launch assaults was a sign of their devotion. León Toral insisted that 'only God' was his accomplice; in fact, he was cheered by thousands who dreamed of bringing the Kingdom of Christ to beleaguered Mexico.


'An illuminating study on the meaning of ‘fanaticism’ and the best study of cristero activism in Mexico City. In tough, compact prose, Robert Weis tracks the rise and fall of the Mexican ‘muscular Christianity’ embodied by José de León Toral, killer of revolutionary strongman, Álvaro Obregón. Toral’s gendered, Catholicized, and murderous angst - interpreted as a twentieth-century stoicism - has never felt so vivid or palpable. Weis shows that Toral meant to assassinate not just Mexico’s revolution but the female-dominated ‘sugar Catholicism’ of the jazz age.'

Matthew Butler - University of Texas, Austin

'A riveting, compelling, and deeply human analysis of the radical Catholic youth in 1920s Mexico, including the assassin of Mexico's last caudillo, General Alvaro Obregón. Required reading for all those interested in the aftermath and legacy of the Mexican Revolution.'

Jurgen Buchenau - University of North Carolina, Charlotte

'While the subtitle Militant Catholic Youth in Post-Revolutionary Mexico is accurate, the interpretive genius of the book is summed up in the wonderful, insightful phrase ‘a generation of clumsy terrorists'. This is a must read.'

William H. Beezley - University of Arizona


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