|the bella vista
The following book review has been reprinted without permission. It was taken from:
The Saturday Review of Literature: Saturday, July 27, 1935; Vol. XII, No. 13; New York
An Observer of the Mexican Revolution
TEMPEST OVER MEXICO. By Rosa E. King. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1935. $3
Reviewed by J. Fred Rippy
This little volume of slightly more than three hundred pages is a fascinating account of what the author saw of the Mexican revolution which began in 1910. The setting of the main story is the State of Morelos, the scene of the revolutionary activities of Emeliano Zapata, leader of the Indian struggle for "land and liberty" in southern Mexico, and a man destined to retain a permanent place among the heroes of the Mexican nation.
In 1905, just as aristocratic Mexico was reaching its serene zenith under the iron rule of Don Porfirio Díaz, Rosa King, an English widow with two children and a living to earn, opened a tea room in the attractive little resort of Cuernavaca, some seventy miles through the mountains from the national capital. Five years later her tranquil and prosperous life was interrupted by the revolution, which lasted almost a decade and left the towns and sugar haciendas of Morelos in ruins. It was only a part of a much larger movement which swept over then entire Aztec nation–one of the most significant revolutions since the close of the eighteenth century–and Mrs. King suffered along with numerous others, foreigners like herself as well as Mexican plutocrats who with their ancestors had exploited the Indians for almost four centuries. She not only had to abandon her property but she almost lost her life during a harrowing flight across the mountains to Toluca.
Since the author was an alert observer and knew intimately many Mexicans of all classes who conversed with her freely, the book is an historical document of considerable importance, but it is even more important as a literary production. Mrs. King has a keen sense of the dramatic, and the story is presented with a freshness, vividness, and tolerance which charm and captivate the reader.
The spirit of the work evokes sincere appreciation. Despite her losses and suffering, Mrs. King harbors no ill will toward the insurgent masses who were attempting to assert their rights and attain their freedom. Her sympathies are with the underprivileged and exploited. She fully appreciates the ideals of the revolution. Sitting amidst the ruins of her vanished fortune, she views the struggle in its proper perspective. "We were on the wrong side," she says–"cogs in the system that had enslaved free men."
J. Fred Rippy, professor of history at Duke University, is the author of "The United States and Mexico," and other books bearing upon Hispanic America.