Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Eagle's Throne by Carlos Fuentes

If I had to come up with some basic texts in political science for college freshmen, I'd probably include "The Eagle's Throne" along with its companions in amoral realism: Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince" and Carl von Clausewitz's "On War." It emulates them in refusing all forms of idealism and their attendant pieties. It prefers the nasty wisdom of corruption to the smiling platitudes of democracy. An example: "Corruption makes the system fluid and effective, unbothered by utopian hopes regarding justice or its lack thereof."

For all that, "The Eagle's Throne" can't be described as a cynical book so much as an unromantic one that rolls away the rock of Mexican politics and uncovers a pit of treacheries, deceits, maneuvers, stratagems, and the scurrying tarantulas of personal ambition. "The Eagle's Throne" itself is the Presidency of Mexico, a title that is roughly equivalent to our West Wing or The Oval Office.

You can find the review here

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