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Academic & Professional Books  History & Other Humanities  Environmental History

Fueling Mexico Energy and Environment, 1850-1950

By: Germán Vergara(Author)
300 pages
Fueling Mexico
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  • Fueling Mexico ISBN: 9781108932677 Paperback Dec 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • Fueling Mexico ISBN: 9781108831277 Hardback Jun 2021 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Around the 1830s, parts of Mexico began industrializing using water and wood. By the 1880s, this model faced a growing energy and ecological bottleneck. By the 1950s, fossil fuels powered most of Mexico's economy and society. Looking to the north and across the Atlantic, late nineteenth-century officials and elites concluded that fossil fuels would solve Mexico's energy problem and Mexican industry began introducing coal. But limited domestic deposits and high costs meant that coal never became king in Mexico. Oil instead became the favored fuel for manufacture, transport, and electricity generation. This shift, however, created a paradox of perennial scarcity amidst energy abundance: every new influx of fossil energy led to increased demand. German Vergara shows how the decision to power the country's economy with fossil fuels locked Mexico in a cycle of endless, fossil-fueled growth – with serious environmental and social consequences.


1. Introduction: Energy, environment, and history
2. 1850s: Solar society
3. The nature of growth
4. Searching for rocks
5. The other revolution
6. 1950s: Fossil-fueled society


Customer Reviews


Germán Vergara is Assistant Professor of History at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

By: Germán Vergara(Author)
300 pages
Media reviews

"Fueling Mexico convincingly places wood, water, coal, and oil at the center of Mexico's historical narrative while undermining Eurocentric approaches to energy transitions. Expertly written and deeply researched, this superb energy history, the first of its kind for Latin America, invites scholars and students alike to rethink their understanding of Mexico's momentous economic and social transformations."
– Matthew Vitz, University of California, San Diego

"Vergara provides an exquisite analysis of a captivating transition – Mexico's conversion from an agrarian country to an industrialized nation. Focusing on a complete panorama of energy, Vergara rewrites the modern history of Mexico accounting for how fossil fuels seeped into all aspects of society. The result is a tremendous piece of scholarship."
– Emily Wakild, Boise State University

"Fueling Mexico is, unquestionably, a major contribution to the historiography of Mexico's environmental history and groundwork for Latin American energy history."
– Viridiana Hernandez Fernandez, H-Net Reviews

"Fueling Mexico skillfully brings together histories of science, infrastructure, politics, and the environment to show how energy regimes underlay many of the hallmarks of Mexico's trajectory from 1850 to 1950."
– Casey Marina Lurtz, Johns Hopkins University

"This highly accessible study is a must read for students of modern Mexican and environmental history [...] Highly recommended."
– D. Newcomer, Choice

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