Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead

Overview

Five freshly decapitated human heads are thrown onto a crowded dance floor in western Mexico. A Mexican drug cartel dismembers the body of a rival and then stitches his face onto a soccer ball. These are the sorts of grisly tales that dominate the media, infiltrate movies and TV shows, and ultimately shape Americans' perception of Mexico as a dangerous and scary place, overrun by brutal drug lords.

Without a doubt, the drug war is real. In the last six years, over 60,000 people ...

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Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead

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Overview

Five freshly decapitated human heads are thrown onto a crowded dance floor in western Mexico. A Mexican drug cartel dismembers the body of a rival and then stitches his face onto a soccer ball. These are the sorts of grisly tales that dominate the media, infiltrate movies and TV shows, and ultimately shape Americans' perception of Mexico as a dangerous and scary place, overrun by brutal drug lords.

Without a doubt, the drug war is real. In the last six years, over 60,000 people have been murdered in narco-related crimes. But, there is far more to Mexico's story than this gruesome narrative would suggest.

While thugs have been grabbing the headlines, Mexico has undergone an unprecedented and under-publicized political, economic, and social transformation. In her groundbreaking book, Two Nations Indivisible, Shannon K. O'Neil argues that the United States is making a grave mistake by focusing on the politics of antagonism toward Mexico. Rather, we should wake up to the revolution of prosperity now unfolding there.

The news that isn't being reported is that, over the last decade, Mexico has become a real democracy, providing its citizens a greater voice and opportunities to succeed on their own side of the border. Armed with higher levels of education, upwardly-mobile men and women have been working their way out of poverty, building the largest, most stable middle class in Mexico's history.

This is the Mexico Americans need to get to know. Now more than ever, the two countries are indivisible. It is past time for the U.S. to forge a new relationship with its southern neighbor. Because in no uncertain terms, our future depends on it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nearing the tenth anniversary of NAFTA, relations between the United States and Mexico are as critical, and as difficult, as ever. With immigration reform a long-promised but undelivered goal, and the news from south of the border mostly related to drug trafficking and unending violence, Americans are increasingly suspicious of their neighbor. O’Neil, a senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that, contrary to popular perception, Mexico is well on its way to building resilient, democratic institutions and a robust economy, and that bilateral ties continue to hold great promise. Though she points out positive indicators in many arenas, she is less sanguine about Mexico’s local police forces and judicial system: “Officers are expected to share extracurricular earnings with their superiors” and “more than 80 percent of crimes are never reported.” A background in international finance gives O’Neil insight into the workings of the economy, and she is at her most persuasive highlighting the importance of cross-border trade and freedom of movement to both countries. She chronicles how, beginning in the 1880s, “the frontier slowly hardened into a border,” precipitating unintended but far-reaching consequences for all. A good political and economic history of modern Mexico, the book will be of interest to those seeking a deeper understanding of the country. Agent: Lisa Adams, Garamond Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"A good political and economic history of modern Mexico, the book will be of interest to those seeking a deeper understanding of the country." —Publishers Weekly

"In delightfully entertaining yet fact-filled prose, O'Neil sketches a persuasively optimistic portrait of Mexico, one at odds with the crime-drenched media reports and alarmist warnings of nativists in the United States." —Foreign Affairs

"Shannon O'Neil's new book about U.S.-Mexico relations is probably the best since 1989's Distant Neighbors by Alan Riding . . . O'Neil concentrates on the issues of immigration, the lack of rule of law in Mexico, and how Mexico has helped U.S. companies become more competitive in the global market, thus adding U.S. jobs. She provides concrete examples and historical context, mixing the stories of individuals deftly with her macroeconomic observations." —San Antonio Express-News

"[O'Neil] provides both a readable recent history of Mexico and a cogent argument for why U.S. policymakers, business leaders and citizens should care about the future of their southern neighbor . . . The book will interest those who are concerned about the future of U.S.-Mexico relations, but it is also an indispensable account of Mexico's recent history-including its processes of democratic opening and political reform. The author manages to cover in less than 200 pages most of the major developments that have shaped Mexico's emergence as a democracy and modern economy, as well as the work that needs to be done to make those changes permanent. And the writer's easy style makes it a quick and accessible-even exciting-read without sacrificing depth." —Americas Quarterly

"Shannon O'Neil's new book Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead insightfully analyzes and explains the different and at times paradoxical aspects of modern Mexico. Throughout the book, O'Neil livens the narrative with well-told anecdotes drawn from her own experiences in Mexico City and other parts of the country. She distills more than two decades of research into straightforward prose and also shares the stories of the friends and acquaintances she met through the years." —Forbes.com

"In her book Two Nations Indivisible, Shannon K. O'Neil dissects the complicated, symbiotic and often testy relationship between the United States and Mexico as they charge ahead in the 21st century." —Texas Tribune

"Groundbreaking." —San Antonio News Express

"Shannon O'Neil's Two Nations Indivisible challenges us to delve beyond how and what we think of Mexico and its splashy headlines. She has written an absorbing book about our two nations' common border and mutual destiny, a critical read to grasp turbulent but pivotal and promising Mexico. This is a revealing, fresh look into a country undergoing transformation, a book brimming with insight and thoughtfulness about a strange and difficult neighbor that many of us claim to know, yet so few of us really understand. I was instantly captivated." —Alfredo Corchado, Mexico correspondent for The Dallas Morning News, and author of Midnight In Mexico

"Shannon O'Neil has combined her deep knowledge of Mexico with illuminating anecdotes and insightful analysis to set out the opportunities and challenges for Mexico and to persuasively make the case that a successful Mexico is of vital importance to the United States. In that context, she thoughtfully explores the policy paths that Mexico and the United States should pursue to realize the potential for Mexico's success that she strongly believes in. And, while this discussion is serious and important, it is also well written and engrossing." —Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary

"Wedded-for better or for worse. Trade booms, they reshape each other's societies, and Mexico democratizes. Yet, Mexico's thugs get weapons in the United States; U.S. kids get cocaine from Mexico. Shannon O'Neil's smart, articulate, well-researched, and illuminating book sheds light on this binational intimacy, its tragedies and hopes, and sets the path for a better future." —Jorge Domínguez, Professor, Harvard University

"Two Nations Indivisible provides a brilliant, well-documented roadmap showing how and why the United States and Mexico could and should collaborate to solve shared economic, social and security challenges and in doing so advance their respective national interests. Leaders, public and private, on both sides of the border should take note." —Ambassador Carla A. Hills, Chair & CEO, Hills & Company, International Consultants

"Two Nations Indivisible is an in depth analysis of the relationship between two nations that together can play a major role in the 21st century." —Claudio X. Gonzalez, Chairman, Mexico Business Council

"The U.S.-Mexico relationship is as complex as it is misunderstood. Shannon O'Neil provides a lucid and timely correction to the many myths that have long plagued this relationship." —Moises Naim, Senior Associate in the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of The End of Power

"O'Neil presents a contemporary overview of US-Mexico relations and focuses on the current state of affairs regarding trade, security, and immigration issues... Anecdotes help to present the human face of immigration, the devastating effects of violence, and the challenges that politicians and diplomats face in dealing with the complexities and contradictions of the bilateral relationship at the federal level." —CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199898336
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/22/2013
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 482,249
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Shannon K. O'Neil is Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. A frequent media commentator on foreign relations, she has published her work in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and other periodicals.

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Table of Contents

Preface The "Real" Mexico
Chapter 1 Mexico at the Crossroad
Chapter 2 Reenvisioning U.S.-Mexico Diplomatic Relations
Chapter 3 Immigration's Binding Ties
Chapter 4 Mexico's Lonely Struggle for Democracy
Chapter 5 Cross-Border Dreams: Mexico's Growing Middle Class
Chapter 6 Mexico's Rising Insecurity: A Real Illness with the Wrong Prescription
Chapter 7 Deciding Our Mutual Future
Bibliography
Index

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