Vergara’s new book bypasses the usual thoroughfares and signposts of Mexican national history. The Tuxtepec Rebellion, the Mexican Revolution, and Lázaro Cardenas’ oil expropriation are noticed only at a distance, background rather than destination on this tour of the country’s changing energy regimes. Instead, technological innovation, the exploitation and exhaustion of fuel reserves, and the consolidation of new infrastructure provide Vergara’s mile markers and pitstops. By drawing on scholarship from energy economists and the growing field of energy humanities, Fueling Mexico highlights the environmental and geological constraints that shaped Mexican political and economic possibilities as well as the political processes that determined how those constraints were understood and managed. The repeated political decision to tie Mexico’s future to fossil fuels undergirded both the nation’s economic expansion and the social and environmental unsustainability that accompanied it.

Vergara’s recalibrated chronology highlights the 1880s and the 1920s as the pivotal moments in Mexico’s...

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