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.

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