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El Monstruo is a defense of place and the history of that place. No one has told the gritty, vibrant histories of this city of 23 million faceless souls from the ground up, listened to the stories of those who have not been crushed, deconstructed the Monstruo’s very monstrousness, and lived to tell its secrets. In El Monstruo, Ross now does.
San Antonio Express-News
“Meticulously researched and imaginatively reported, "El Monstruo" is not your typical history book. No dry, crinkly prose here. As it does in Ross' journalism, Mexico erupts, like PopocatÈpetl, from the page.”
San Antonio Express-News
“Like having the world’s best guide show you around.”
"Ross’ book is part people’s history, part Gonzo journalism, with a wry and humorous style."
“El Monstruo is a valentine to place and useful chronicle of an epoch that has seen Mexico’s people find their voice…Ross’ quarter-century as witness does us the invaluable service of putting events to come in a context to understand them.”
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
“Vividly impressionistic survey of a fascinating urban panorama, El Monstruo makes for addictive reading.”
Kirkus Reviews STARRED REVIEW
“Monstrously entertaining and tenderhearted…”
“…a brave, stirring love letter, cautionary tale and travelogue…”
Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums
“From a window of the aging Hotel Isabel, where he has lived for almost a quarter of a century, John Ross sings a lusty corrido about a great, betrayed city and its extraordinary procession of rulers, lovers and magicians.”
Iain Sinclair, author of Lights Out for the Territory and London Orbital
“Coruscating and necessary. Here is one of those rare books that convinces from the first sentence: a writer embedded in his writing, wholly present in the subject, leading us with savage grace to the heart of the beast.”
Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
"John Ross is uncompromising in his dedication to the poor, the downtrodden and the victims of empire. He is not welcome on the television talk show circuit frequented by journalistic elites and political players, nor is he invited to the cocktail parties of the rich and powerful. He is most at home among the people in the slums and barrios of the world. John Ross is the personification of the peoples' reporter, a troubadour for justice who has chosen to cast his lot of conscience with those who have the will to live and the heart to resist against all odds. Simply put, John Ross is the Robin Hood of journalism."
Posted January 9, 2010
As a frequent visitor to Mexico City and the Historic district, the book cover immediately caught my attention. The title is appropriate as it suggests the "monster" that Mexico City has been and remains on many levels. The book is a short but powerful history, mostly of the ifluential personalities of Mexico and Mexico City, in chronolgical order right up to 2009.
Mexico City is a monster not only for the lack of adequate infrastructure and problems with pollution, crowding, corruption, earthquakes, and crime, but also the monster that has and continues to swallows human lives since the time of the Aztecs. Ross writes in a light hearted style that suggests a humorous view of life because it does no good to get outraged or upset at the broken record of injustice and stupidity over hundreds of years. One soon comprehends that the book is actually a tragedy. All we can do is join Ross and just shake one's head in disbelief. Some of the stories are so outrageous because of the human folly that remains the curse of this city. It's obvious that Ross is a traditional liberal from the 50s, but he provides fascinating insight that was still balanced into the personalities that shaped the modern city. He knows the subject well although sometimes his writing seems to be fragmented. He has included short commentaries from local people he has known and those add a touch of passion and warmth to the tragedy that constitutes this city. It's a good read worth the time for anyone seeking to understand Mexico.
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