This anthology was created as a proud memorial, in Fuentes's words, to the "extraordinary experience of the ancient Mexican millennium" and a hopeful look to the future. Through a series of excerpts from his novels and essays, Fuentes covers the period from pre-conquest to modern times. In a passage from Los dias enmascarados (The Masked Days, ERA, 1954), he unfolds the legends of ancient Aztec gods like Chac Mool, an ironic and cruel sculpture that comes to life, as well as La Malinche, Cort?s's controversial interpreter and lover. Pieces on the Mexican revolution, such as those excerpted from non-fiction books such as La campa?a (The Campaign, Fondo de Cultura,1990) and El espejo enterrado (The Buried Mirror, Taurus, 1992), give a satisfying overview of the tyrants who have governed Mexico. In the same fashion, Fuentes takes on the lives of generals Pancho Villa, Benito Ju rez, and Porfirio Diaz. Denouncing modern Mexican reality from all possible perspectives, Fuentes moves from the borderlands to the city, from Ciudad Ju rez, with a segment from La frontera de cristal (The Crystal Border, Alfaguara, 1995), where he describes the life of young girls working at the cross-border assembly plants, to the 1968 massacre of students in Tlatelolco, Mexico City, in Los a?os con Laura Diaz (Alfaguara,2001; The Years with Laura Diaz, Farrar, 2000). On one hand, Fuentes sublimates the historical reality of Mexico, presenting it as a nation with an origin independent of a conquest. On the other, he promotes the belief that democracy can be achieved through goodwill and perseverance, a view that acknowledges the need to work toward such independence. Though this unusual anthology encompasses thefundamental historical facts that have defined Mexican culture, Fuentes does fail to mention one thing: the effects of Christianity on indigenous cultures. This important collection will be invaluable in libraries and will be sought out in bookstores by readers of Mexican history. Isabel Cuadrado, New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.