Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire and Revolution in the Borderlands (W. W. Norton & Company)
“Rebel historian” Kelly Lytle Hernández reframes our understanding of U.S. history in this groundbreaking narrative of revolution in the borderlands.
Bad Mexicans tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers—and American dissidents—to their cause. Determined to oust Mexico’s dictator, Porfirio Díaz, who encouraged the plunder of his country by U.S. imperialists such as Guggenheim and Rockefeller, the rebels had to outrun and outsmart the swarm of U. S. authorities vested in protecting the Diaz regime. The U.S. Departments of War, State, Treasury, and Justice as well as police, sheriffs, and spies, hunted the magonistas across the country. Capturing Ricardo Flores Magón was one of the FBI’s first cases.
But the magonistas persevered. They lived in hiding, wrote in secret code, and launched armed raids into Mexico until they ignited the world’s first social revolution of the twentieth century.
Taking readers to the frontlines of the magonista uprising and the counterinsurgency campaign that failed to stop them, Kelly Lytle Hernández puts the magonista revolt at the heart of U.S. history. Long ignored by textbooks, the magonistas threatened to undo the rise of Anglo-American power, on both sides of the border, and inspired a revolution that gave birth to the Mexican-American population, making the magonistas’ story integral to modern American life.
Kelly Lytle Hernández is The Thomas E. Lifka Endowed Chair in History at UCLA. One of the nation’s leading scholars of race, immigration, and mass incarceration, she is the author of Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (University of California Press 2010) and City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles (University of North Carolina Press, 2017). She reframes our understanding of U.S. history in her groundbreaking book, Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands (W.W. Norton, May 2022). In 2019, Professor Lytle Hernández was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow for her historical and contemporary work.
Marissa López is Associate Graduate Dean and Professor of English and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, researching Chicanx literature from the 19th century to the present with an emphasis on 19th century Mexican California. She has written two books: Chicano Nations (NYU 2011) is about nationalism and Chicanx literature from the early-1800s to post-9/11; Racial Immanence (NYU 2019) explores uses of the body and affect in Chicanx cultural production. She recently completed a year-long residency at the Los Angeles Public Library as a Scholars & Society fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies.
Praise for Bad Mexicans -
I’m mad at Kelly Lytle Hernández. Every time I pick up something she’s written, I can’t put it down. I’ve lost hours, days, sleep, missed deadlines and appointments, made my kids late to school reading Migra! and City of Inmates, and, now, Bad Mexicans. Her writing is like a drug, riveting, intoxicating, vivid. And she’s a damned historian! I come away from reading Kelly’s writing exhilarated and inspired. — Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk
An award-winning, internationally acclaimed scholar, Kelly Lytle Hernández delivers historical analysis with clear relevance in today’s sociopolitical climate. A leading voice on issues ranging from immigration to policing to the criminal justice system more broadly, her work is known for empowering a wide range of communities, providing the necessary historical framing to build synergy among some of today’s most daring social movements. — Heather Anne Thompson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Blood in the Water
Kelly Lytle Hernández is one of the most compelling historians in her field. Synthesizing the complexities of race, gender, and ethnicity into the fabric of living history, her work sheds light on today’s crucial issues and her passion has the capacity to not only inform but to change minds. — Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times best-selling author of What Truth Sounds Like
Kelly Lytle Hernández writes history and makes history. She is one of the most admired and respected historians of Mexican-American history and the United States. Conveying deep archival research in a compelling, accessible narrative, she breathes life into history. — Vicki Lynn Ruiz, winner of the National Humanities Medal
In this sweeping cross-border narrative, Lytle-Hernández places the Magón brothers and the Mexican Revolution squarely at the heart of U.S. history—revealing not only the centrality of Mexicans to the U.S. story but also the currents of imperialism, racial violence, and political suppression that have shaped the United States as we know it today. In Bad Mexicans, Lytle-Hernández displays the skills of a deep thinker, a powerful storyteller, and an assiduous and implacable researcher. — Natalia Molina, MacArthur Fellow and author of A Place at the Nayarit
An astute historical analysis....a gripping cross-border study....While the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) is usually discussed in the context of its influence on Central America, the author argues convincingly that it ‘also remade the United States’....The author combines a masterful grasp of archival material and accessible prose, transforming what could have been a dry academic work into a page-turner....A beautifully crafted, impressively inclusive history of the Mexican Revolution. — Kirkus Reviews