In the Shadow of the Giant: The Americanization of Modern Mexico

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The influx of Mexican immigrants to the United States throughout the years has impacted our culture, labor force, and economy. Often these individuals are blamed for the perceived ills they bring to this country. Yet few people ever consider the profound influence that the United States has on Mexico.

In this first book to view modern Mexico in the era of NAFTA and globalization, In the Shadow of the Giant offers insight into the land on our southern border.

What we find is a nation that looks more like the United States than even Mexicans themselves could have imagined a decade ago: Rates of obesity are second only to the United States among the world's industrialized countries. Recreational drug use is soaring among young Mexicans Citigroup owns the largest bank in Mexico Wal-Mart is the country's biggest private employer revealing a vastly different physical and cultural landscape from his days as a young journalist living in Mexico in the mid-1980s, Joseph Contreras tracks the relentless and ongoing Americanization of his ancestral home. Although these changes may seem a natural part of globalization, the country had long prided itself on the social, political, economic and even spiritual differences that distinguished it from the United States. In addition to embracing our virtues and vices, Contreras argues that our southern neighbor has become a de facto economic colony of the United States.

At a time when immigration looms as a leading hot-button issue in American politics, the time is ripe for examining our influences, for better or worse, on our neighbor to the south.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post

"...provocative and highly informative."
Author of Politics in Mexico: The Democratic Consolidation - Roderic Ai Camp

"Joseph Contreras, who on two different occasions has covered the Mexico beat for Newsweek, offers a welcome, entertaining, and deeply insightful perspective of the dramatic impact of Americanization on our southern neighbor accessible to any reader, drawing on a wealth of personal experiences and numerous interviews, uniquely flavored by his own Mexican-American origins."
Mexico's former foreign minister and Global Distinguished Professor at New York - Jorge Casta�eda
"Joseph Contreras puts his finger perceptively and knowledgeably on a fundamental issue in US-Mexico relations. Quality reporting, insightful vignettes, and a highly readable text make In the Shadow of the Giant a fine and necessary read."
author of Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans - Alan Riding

"In this illuminating book, Joseph Contreras persuasively shows us how, almost without noticing, Mexico has come to terms with its place in the shadow of the United States."
author of Toward a North American Community - Robert Pastor

"Joseph Contreras, a self-described 'pocho' born in Los Angeles of Mexican parents, chronicles two journeys that pass each other moving in opposite directions—a personal one to return to his roots and a national one by Mexico to become modern. In this unusually perceptive and well-written cross-cultural study, Contreras adopts the Mexico of a romantic, nationalistic past while Mexico opts for a North American future. I recommend all North Americans read the book and make the two-way journey.


Manuel Roig-Franzia
…provocative and highly informative
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813544823
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 3/16/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Contreras is a native of Los Angeles, spent twenty eight years at Newsweek magazine. He most recently was the publication's Latin American regional editor.

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Table of Contents

Introduction The United States of Mexico 1

Part I

1 A Chicano Comes to the Big Enchilada: Mexico City, 1984-1987 19

2 Not Such Distant Neighbors: Mexico in the Era of Vicente Fox 38

3 Looking Northward 63

Part II

4 NAFTA: The Double-Edged Sword of Free Trade 87

5 The New Breed of Mexican Businessmen 103

6 The Modern Mexican News Media 118

Part III

7 The Mexican Dream 135

8 The Gringo Riviera 151

9 The Umbilical Cord of Remittances 165

10 The Southernmost City in Texas: Monterrey, Nuevo Leon 183

Part IV

11 Made-in-the-U.S.A. Diseases 205

12 The Evangelical Challenge 220

Conclusion: An Invaded Country 235

Acknowledgments 245

Notes 247

Selected Bibliography 261

Index 265

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