The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1994, Volume 40, Number 4
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

Book Review

Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution: The Political Trials of Ricardo Flores Magon in the United States.

By Colin M. MacLachlan, foreword by John Mason Hart. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. 

Reviewed by Carlos Larrolde, an independent historical researcher and archivist whose publications include Mexican American Movements and Leaders.

Colin M. MacLachlan documented the legacy of the Mexican, radical, intellectual Ricardo Magon, who lived in the turbulent era of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and the anti-anarchist hysteria that dominated American society during the early 1900s.

As the scholar James W. Wilkie noted about this work, [it is] “a rich and multi-textured presentation. While scholars will find this work extremely enlightening, the general reader will be caught up in the human drama.”

John Hart, in the forward said, “the book is a landmark treatment of Flores Magon. It provides new information regarding the importance of his early work with Mexican and Mexican-American labor and political issues….This study has far-reaching implications for Mexican as well as United States history.”

One can only admire MacLachlan for his dedicated scholarship and for his zealous devotion to seek out numerous original sources for his study. However, MacLachlan’s study now points out that further inquiry needs to be done about the Magonista movement in Southern California with its unique followers. A two-story brick building in downtown Los Angeles was the headquarters for this radical crusade throughout the American Southwest and in parts of Mexico. The Magonistas in South Texas faithfully read the Los Angeles anarchist materials that arrived constantly in their region.

In reading MacLachlan’s work, one quickly realizes that the Magonista drive was a complex political activity. His chapter “Arizona” reveals how in each state Magonismo effected every region along the Mexican border. The historian James Sandos in his work on South Texas Magonistas has further documented MacLachlan’s Magon’s anarchist activities. As a reference book, MacLachlan’s study is essential to understanding the Chicano experience during the first part of the twentieth century.

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