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For Christ and Country
Militant Catholic Youth in Post-Revolutionary Mexico


Part of Cambridge Latin American Studies

  • Date Published: March 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108730358

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Explores the life experiences of a generation of Mexicans who came of age in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution
    • Offers a different narrative of the Mexican Revolution by analyzing the beliefs and practices of people who opposed it
    • Highlights the importance of religion in revolutionary reforms, which typically emphasize land, labor, and politics
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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

    '… exemplary … For Christ and Country is a very useful, important, and engaging contribution to the historiography.' Edward Wright-Rios, Hispanic American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108730358
    • length: 216 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Catholics and anticlericals: from reforma to revolution
    2. The enforcement of anticlericalism
    3. Sugar Catholics
    4. Imprudent youth
    5. Martyrdom
    6. Trial

  • Author

    Robert Weis, University of Northern Colorado
    Robert Weis is Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado and the author of Bakers and Basques: A Social History of Bread in Mexico (2012).

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