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STUDENTS
of Mexican history have at one time or another
the frustrating yet exhilarating sense that the more they learn
about their subject, the less they really understand it. Of course,
the task is exhilarating precisely because it is so frustrating. After all, a topic that
yields its secrets easily is hardly worth the effort. I realized early on in my career
that the effort to understand Mexico's past and present is easily worth a lifetime.
I would like to thank all those who helped bring me to this realization: Richard
Sinkin, David Baird, Jurgen Buchenau, Doug Murphy, Alejandra Garda Quin-
tanilla, Moises Zamora Peregrina, Robert Bell, Marcela Escobedo, Josue Cesar
Romero, Roberto Sanchez Nieto, Jose Luis Gonzalez Giron, as well as Moises
Cerdan Minor and Sr. Juventina Abarca Vargas and their family. Maria Alba
Pastor kindly granted me permission to photocopy her invaluable interviews
with villagers of the Texmelucan region. Jesus Contreras Hernandez, archivist a
and cronista o.ficial of San Martin Texmelucan, gave me the run of the muniCipal
archive of his city and made me feel very much at home, and the staff of the
Judicial Archive in Puebla allowed me free access.
Others helped in very specific ways. Alan Knight read the entire dissertation
manuscript and was extremely generous with his inSights. Linda Hall also read
the manuscript and offered many kind and valuable comments. The readers on
my dissertation committee at the University of North Carolina - Sarah Cham-
bers, John Chasteen, Michael Hunt, and Harry Watson - gave my work their
serious attention and offered much appreciated advice. Ken Wissoker of Duke
University Press was encouraging and endlessly patient with the numerous
delays in delivering the finished product. And Ross Parmenter, a meticulous
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