Review of Geo-Mexico by Felisa Churpa Rosa Rogers (The People’s Guide to Mexico)

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May 152013

Our grateful thanks to Felisa Churpa Rosa Rogers for the following review which appeared in The People’s Guide to Mexico, March 2011:

Growing up in a parochial school system, I was under the impression that the subject geography was limited to identifying countries by their shapes. Richard Rhoda and Tony Burton’s Geo-Mexico: The Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico drove the last nail in the coffin of my childhood misconception. Although it has its share of maps, the volume illustrates both the richness of geography as a field of study and the spectrum of cultural, economic, and environmental anomalies that make Mexico so eternally fascinating.

Due to its format and content, Geo-Mexico: The Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico is essentially a text book, albeit a rather excellent one. Don’t let that deter you. Although packed with interesting statistics, this book has more to offer: the authors are unafraid to make concrete assertions without miring their observations in academic qualifiers. Burton and Rhoda state facts in a fresh style, provide compelling statistics, and clearly explain all terms and concepts.

Every time a boring-sounding chapter title had me contemplating skipping ahead, I’d find a gem that kept me reading. For example, the chapter “Transportation: The Movement of People and Goods” drew me in with a tidbit about the transportation of silver bullion from Zacatecas in the 16th Century. I was glad I persevered because I stumbled across a fascinating segment on the cultural exchange between the Philippines and Mexico, which began in 1565 when Spain established an import route from The Philippines that crossed Mexico, shipping in at Acapulco and out again at Veracruz.

“..Spanish galleons carried Mexican silver to Manila and returned with spices, silk, porcelain, lacquer ware and other exotic goods from the Orient. ..Many Mexicans settled in Manila and a sizable Filipino community was established in Acapulco. Scores of Nahuatl words entered Tagalog, the main Filipino language. The Filipino currency is still called the peso. In the return direction, Filipinos taught Mexicans the distillation process which enabled the production of tequila.”

If history isn’t your game, Rhoda and Burton provide hard data on immigration, crime, population growth, the effects of NAFTA, ecosystems, and tourism’s impact on the environment. Because I write about Mexico, I will treasure Geo-Mexico: The Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico as a resource, but I highly recommend this volume to educators, students, and anyone with more than a passing interest in the culture, history, terrain, economy, politics, or development of the country.

[The People’s Guide to Mexico, March 2011]

Apr 022011

The book is impressive; indeed, I would say it is encyclopedic, both in terms of Mexico as a place, and geography as a subject.  Exactly as promised on p.2, it introduces models and theories that are characteristic of the subject, and then shows how they could be adapted to be made more relevant to Mexico.  Moreover, it does so in ways so clear that a layman/non-geographer would have little difficulty understanding the linkages made.

Chapter 2 illustrates the point: a reader does not have to be a physical geographer to understand the links between plate tectonics and volcanoes and earthquakes in Mexico.  Other chapters do likewise, and it has been a delight to find geographic theories and principles stated and then illustrated with reference to the topic of the subject – and in plain language, rather than jargon.

The diagrams and maps are very well done and not simply imported from other sources -a clear indication that the authors really know their subject of Mexico.  To describe the Latin American urban model is one thing:  to view Figure 22.4 is to see it in effect and to understand its socio-economic impact (and politics?).  I can well see why the book should be promoted.

The linkages between models, theories, processes, and site are so clearly made that I could see the book being valuable for International Baccalaureate students; but I would not expect that to be the case for most senior high school students.  It is more likely to be used at university level….  Its comprehensiveness as a dual encyclopedia would make it an indispensable reference…

Reproduced by kind permission of Dr. Stuart Semple, Adjunct Professor of Geography in the Department of Geography and Environment at Mount Allison University, in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. Dr. Semple is a respected educator and a former Chief Geography Examiner of the International Baccalaureate (IB).

“The book is a masterpiece…” — quote about Geo-Mexico, the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico

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Mar 272011

Douglas Fir, a Californian, is a true world traveler having spent time in literally scores of countries on five continents. With degrees (including one in geography) from both San Francisco and Humboldt State Universities, Douglas has traveled widely in Mexico since the 1950s. Now retired, he and his wife spend every winter in Mexico in the small village of San Pancho on the Nayarit coast.

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“…the book is a masterpiece…. It makes such a good textbook, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t catch fire in Latin American Studies Programs everywhere they’re taught in English. “

“One of the things that makes it so engaging is how well it reads, how accessible and interesting it is.”

He clearly likes Geo-Mexico, the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico, and we believe you will too.

Review of Geo-Mexico by Geographic Travels

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Feb 202011

Geographic Travels is one of the web’s most popular and long-established geography blogs. Here is what they had to say about Geo-Mexico:

Book Review: Geo-Mexico

Earlier we featured the great blog, that is still active, Geo-Mexico. The blog Geo-Mexico is a promotion blog for the book, also called Geo-Mexico. We received a review copy of the book and can honestly say the book more than lives up to the blog.

As a child growing up in the center of the United States I knew Mexico was 1) the source of many immigrants 2) the land of tacos and 3) home of advanced American Indian nations. Later on I became more and more interested in Mexico because of its advancement into multiparty democracy, its rich Catholic tradition, and complex mixture of cultures. Because of my growing interest the book Geo-Mexico was a great read for me.

The book is authored by Dr. Richard Rhoda and Tony Burton. Both of these men are experts on Mexico. Their book proves their expertise. Written in textbook form Geo-Mexico covers the whole range of the geography of Mexico. The chapters covers Poctepec (“hill that smokes” or physical geography), Michmaloyan (“place to fish” or economic geography), and Teocalcingo (“where the temple is” or human geography). Thirty-one chapters cover the full range included in these three subfields. Whether one wants to read about the rise of Protestantism in Mexico, the stark north-south political divide between Right and Left, or water issues throughout the country this is the book to read.

Catholicgauzette greatly appreciated the professional, easy-to-read maps. Though the maps are in black and white this is not an issue because of the smart use of different fill designs.

Geo-Mexico is fragmented into a text book style which allows one to jump to the chapter of interest without fear of missing out. However, it does help if you read related chapters like “Migration to the USA” and “Mexicans in the USA.”

Geo-Mexico is a great read. To quote myself during the first day of high school Spanish, Me gusta

Geographic Travels, April 12, 2010

– – – – –

Six months on, one of the authors of Geographic Travels kindly sent us this short note:

It truly is a great book.  When I was back stateside there would be slow nights were I would take it off the bookshelf, open to a random chapter, and just read.  I like how you combined the textbook format with general readability.”

Author Harriet Hart on Geo-Mexico

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May 112010

“Once in a while a book comes along that I want to bring to people’s attention. Local author Richard Rhoda (with a PhD in geography) in collaboration with Tony Burton has created a book titled Geo-Mexico The Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico that is really exceptional… The book would make an excellent textbook.” Author Harriet Hart
[Thank you very much indeed, Harriet – we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!]

Review by John Pint in MexConnect

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Feb 232010

John Pint, one of Mexico’s best known cavers and explorers, and author of “Outdoors in Western Mexico”,  has reviewed Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico for MexConnect e-zine.

In Pint’s view,

Rhoda and Burton tell us that geography as a subject is — like Mexico itself — “often under-appreciated, equated with memorizing the names of countries, capitals, mountain ranges and rivers.” However, these authors claim that “real” geography is much more interesting and even exciting because it “focuses on the interaction between individuals, societies and the physical environment in both time and space.”

This book, in fact, includes subjects like female quality of life in Mexico, access to cell phones, urban sprawl, the survival of the Tarahumara Indians and even gives us the touring route of the Hermanos Vázquez Circus.

Pint concludes that

Geo-Mexico will surely become the geography book of choice for ethnically-oriented courses in the USA and Canada…  If only we’d had textbooks like this one when I was a youngster.

Click here for the complete review by John Pint

Mexico Bible for Armchair Explorers of Geography and More

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Feb 072010

Review by Dale Palfrey in The Guadalajara Reporter, Friday January 22, 2010. (Reproduced by kind permission of The Guadalajara Reporter)

Collaborating long-distance via Internet over the past six years, Tony Burton and Richard Rhoda have put together the most comprehensive resource of Mexico geography ever published. “Geo-Mexico, the Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico” is now on the market in sync with a milestone year in the country’s history.

Mexico is home to planet earth’s largest natural crystals, its deepest water-filed sink hole, and second richest man, telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim. The country ranks first in the world for diversity of reptile species and the incidence of diabetes, while placing second only to the United States in the consumption of soft drinks. Those are just a few of the juicy factual tidbits curious readers will pick up on the pages of the timely and engaging tome compiled by Ajijic-based geographer Richard Rhoda and colleague Tony Burton, a former lakeside resident who now makes his home in Ladysmith, British Columbia.

The book goes far beyond describing the physical characteristics of the country, exploring sociological, economic, political and cultural landscapes as well to comprise the most comprehensive geographical study of the republic ever published in English.

Laymen and scholars alike will appreciate the straightforward, seamless, reader-friendly writing style and the enhancement of information with more than 150 maps, graphs, diagrams and highlighted textboxes. Presented in 31 easily digestible chapters, the text delves into tha land’s past, present and future with keen analysis that provides a clear understanding of Mexico in a global context.

The concept for the book originated from a lecture series on Mexican geography Rhoda put together for the Lake Chapala Society in 2004. From his original idea of putting his lecture notes into a printed form, the project evolved into a six year research, writing and publishing endeavor.

Burton’s involvement came about as Rhoda was looking into avenues for getting his work into print. He pulled a copy of Burton’s “Western Mexico: A Traveller’s Treasury” off his bookshelf and learned that the self-published author was a fellow geographer. He contacted Burton to seek advice on how to get the work published, but finding common ground, soon saw the project turn into a collaborative effort.

It turns out that Burton had a similar idea floating in the back of his head that came from his struggles to find a single, solid resource in the early 1980’s when he was teaching a college level course on subject in Mexico City. Frustrated by the need to assemble teaching materials from diverse sources, he yearned to fill the gap, but saw it as a gargantuan task he could only conceive of undertaking in retirement.

After an initial exchange of ideas, the two men promptly developed an easy-going working relationship, complementing one another perfectly in their divergent areas of expertise. Rhoda wrote a first draft and then Burton kicked in on editing, fleshing out the content, and putting together the graphics.

The end product is a stunning accomplishment, intentionally timed to coincide with Mexico’s Independence bicentenary and Revolution centenary milestone. It is a must-have item for any Mexicophile’s bookcase.

Comment by Dr. David Truly, Central Connecticut State University

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Jan 062010

“I really enjoyed reading the chapters and feel that this book should be welcomed by teachers, students and anyone interested in Mexico.”
Dr. David Truly, Department of Geography / Director of Tourism and Hospitality Studies,
Central Connecticut State University

Review by Dr. Henry W. Bullamore

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Dec 292009

Henry W. Bullamore, Ph.D., AICP, Professor of Geography and Director of the Center for International Education at Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532 writes:

I am truly impressed with the book… the depth of research and analysis is impressive. This is not a minor supplemental book, but a comprehensive analysis of what is going on in Mexico today…

This book presents a clear explanation of key concepts, and a contemporary discussion of how they apply to modern Mexico. This book will change students’ ideas about Mexico, and allow them to see Mexico as a modern state, not just as a source area for migrants. The book is supported by excellent maps, charts, and data tables.