Brunk, Samuel. Emiliano Zapata: Revolution and Betrayal in Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. A detailed narrative of the renowned revolutionary’s turbulent life, from his humble birth in Anenecuilco village in Morelos through his de facto control of Mexico City in 1914–1915 to his final betrayal and assassination in 1919. The author authoritatively demonstrates that Zapata, neither complete hero nor complete villain, was simply an incredibly determined native leader who paid the ultimate price in his selfless struggle for land and liberty for the campesinos of southern Mexico.
Chance, John K. Conquest of the Sierra. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990. Professor Chance uses archival sources to trace the evolution of colonial society, principally the northern Sierra Zapotec communities and how they adapted their religion, customs, and settlement patterns in response to the pressures of Spanish rule.
Cortés, Hernán. Letters from Mexico. Translated by Anthony Pagden. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986. Cortés’s five long letters to his king, in which he describes contemporary Mexico in fascinating detail, including, notably, the remarkably sophisticated life of the Aztecs at the time of the conquest.
De las Casas, Bartolome. A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. New York: Penguin Books, 1992. The gritty but beloved Dominican Bishop, renowned as Mexico’s “Apostle of the Indians” writes passionately of his own failed attempt to moderate and humanize the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Undoubtedly, de las Casas’ sad tale made a great impression on Spain’s King Charles V, who, in 1542, the same year the book was written, promulgated the liberal New Laws of the Indies, which outlawed slavery 320 years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Díaz del Castillo, Bernal. The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico. Translated by Albert Idell. London: Routledge (of Taylor and Francis Group), 2005. A soldier’s still-fresh tale of the Conquest from the Spanish viewpoint.
Garfias, Luis. The Mexican Revolution. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985. A concise Mexican version of the 1910–1917 Mexican revolution, the crucible of present-day Mexico.
Gugliotta, Bobette. Women of Mexico. Encino, CA: Floricanto Press, 1989. Lively legends, tales, and biographies of remarkable Mexican women, including several from Oaxaca.
León-Portilla, Miguel. The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. New York: Beacon Press, 1962. Provides an intriguing contrast to Díaz del Castillo’s account.
Novas, Himlice. Everything You Need to Know About Latino History. New York: Plume Books (Penguin Group), 1994. Chicanos, Latin rhythm, La Raza, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and much more, interpreted from an authoritative Latino point of view.
Ridley, Jasper . Maximilian and Juárez. New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1999. This authoritative historical biography breathes new life into one of Mexico’s great ironic tragedies, a drama that pitted the native Zapotec “Lincoln of Mexico” against the dreamy, idealistic Archduke Maximilian of Austria-Hungary. Despite their common liberal ideas, they were drawn into a bloody no-quarter struggle that set the Old World against the New.
Simpson, Lesley Bird. Many Mexicos. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962. A much-reprinted, fascinating broad-brush version of Mexican history.
Flannery, Kent, and Joyce Marcus. The Cloud People. New York: Academic Press, 1983. Eminently authoritative authors trace the divergent evolution of the Zapotec and Mixtec peoples as revealed by the archaeological record.
Marcus, Joyce, and Kent Flannery, contributor. Zapotec Civilization. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. The distinguished authors trace the evolution of Valley of Oaxaca  civilization, from 10,000 B.C. to the conquest, using the results from recent finds to shed light on the roots of Oaxaca’s dominant linguistic group. The expertly documented text is elegantly illustrated with hundreds of maps, drawings, and photos, including many aerial views of Oaxaca archaeological sites.
Winter, Marcus. Oaxaca, the Archaeological Record. Mexico, D.F.: Minutiae Mexicana, 1992. A distinguished Oaxaca resident investigator skillfully traces a concise history of Oaxaca’s pre-conquest inhabitants, based on finds at Monte Albán , Mitla , and dozens of other Valley of Oaxaca  and mountain sites.
American Automobile Association. Mexico TravelBook. Heathrow, FL: 2003. Published by the American Automobile Association (1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32746-5063). Short but sweet summaries of major Mexican tourist destinations and sights. Also includes information on fiestas, accommodations, restaurants, and a wealth of information relevant to car travel in Mexico. Available in bookstores, or free to AAA members at affiliate offices.
Church, Mike and Terry. Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Camping. Kirkland, WA: Rolling Homes Press (order by tel. 425/825-7846, P.O. Box 2099, Kirkland, WA 98083-2099, www.rollinghomes.com ). This is an unusually thorough guide to trailer parks all over Mexico, with much coverage of the Pacific Coast in general and the Guadalajara region in particular. Detailed maps guide you accurately to each trailer park cited and clear descriptions tell you what to expect. The book also provides very helpful information on car travel in Mexico, including details of insurance, border crossing, highway safety, car repairs, and much more.
Franz, Carl. The People’s Guide to Mexico. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 13th edition, 2006. An entertaining and insightful A-to-Z general guide to the joys and pitfalls of independent economy travel in Mexico.
Gilford, Judith. The Packing Book. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, fourth edition, 2006. The secrets of the carry-on traveler, or how to make everything you carry do double and triple duty. All for the sake of convenience, mobility, economy, and comfort.
Graham, Scott. Handle With Care: Guide to Socially Responsible Travel in Developing Countries. Chicago: The Noble Press, 1991. Should you accept a meal from a family who lives in a grass house? This insightful guide answers this and hundreds of other tough questions for people who want to travel responsibly in the third world.
Jeffrey, Nan. Adventuring with Children. Ashland, MA: Avalon House Publishing, 1995. This unusually detailed book starts where most travel-with-children books end. It contains, besides a wealth of information and practical strategies for general travel with children, specific chapters on how you can adventure—trek, kayak, river-raft, camp, bicycle, and much more—successfully with the kids in tow.
Mader, Ron. Adventures in Nature Mexico. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 1998. An internationally acknowledged expert on ecotravel in Latin America details dozens of environmentally sensitive adventure tours in Mexico and Oaxaca. Destinations range widely, from scuba diving off Cozumel and exploring lost Mayan cities to jeeping through the Copper Canyon to rescuing turtle eggs on Oaxaca beaches. (Although used copies are available from amazon.com and at libraries, this guide, a classic, is out of print. Nevertheless, Oaxaca resident Ron Mader has updated much of the book in his superb website www.planeta.com .)
Baird, Joseph. The Churches of Mexico, 1530–1810. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962. Mexican colonial architecture and art, illustrated and interpreted, with many monumental examples from Oaxaca.
Barbash, Shepard, and Vicki Ragan. Oaxaca Wood Carving. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1993. Ragan’s luscious color images and Barbash’s interesting, authoritative text highlight the best of Oaxacan wooden alebrijes, masks, dolls, toys, and much more.
Chibnik, Michael. Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxaca Wood Carvings. Austin, Texas: Univ. of Texas Press, 2003. Authoritative study of the phenomenally popular growth of alebrijes, Oaxaca’s fanciful wooden animals. This carefully researched work covers all you need to know about the history, crafting, artistry, and the social and economic ramifications of Oaxacan woodcrafts in particular and handicrafts in general.
Fishgrund, Andrea Stanton. Zapotec Weavers of Teotitlán. Santa Fe: University of New Mexico Press, 1999. Authoritative, richly color-illustrated description of the history, economics, and techniques, both traditional and contemporary, of the textile weavers of Teotitlán del Valle , in the Valley of Oaxaca .
Martínez Penaloza, Porfirio. Popular Arts of Mexico. Mexico City: Editorial Panorama, 1981. An excellent pocket-sized exposition of Mexican art and handicrafts.
Morrill, Penny C., and Carol A. Berk. Mexican Silver. Atglen, PA: Shiffer Publishing Co. (4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310), 2001. Lovingly written and photographed exposition of the Mexican silvercraft of Taxco, Guerrero, that was revitalized through the initiative of Frederick Davis and William Spratling in the 1920s and 1930s. Color photos of many beautiful museum-quality pieces supplement the text, which describes the history and work of a score of silversmithing families who developed the Taxco craft under Spratling’s leadership. Greatly adds to the traveler’s appreciation of the beautiful Taxco silvercrafts.
Muller, Robert J. The Architecture and Sculpture of Oaxaca, 1530s to 1980s. Tempe: Arizona State University, 1995. An informative stone-by-stone guide to Oaxaca’s monumental buildings, mostly churches. The author’s solid commentary vivifies visits to every church of note in Oaxaca and transforms what might be humdrum sightseeing for the reader-traveler into recognition, understanding, and appreciation.
Sandoval, Judith Hancock. Shopping in Oaxaca. Oaxaca: Government of Oaxaca, 1998. The serious shopper’s and wholesaler’s guide to Oaxacan crafts, even including some food. The author illustrates a plethora of examples in black and white and authoritatively lists nearly every source of Oaxacan folk craft, from individual artisans to nearly every established crafts shop in the entire state. Has been available at crafts stores and the federal-state tourist information office on the plaza in Oaxaca City .
Sayer, Chloë. Arts and Crafts of Mexico. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1990. All you ever wanted to know about your favorite Mexican crafts, from papier-mâché to pottery and toys and Taxco silver. Beautifully illustrated by traditional etchings and David Lavender’s crisp black-and-white and color photographs.
Castillo, Ana, ed. Goddess of the Americas. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996. Here a noted author has selected from the works of seven interpreters of Mesoamerican female deities to provide readers with visions of goddesses that range as far and wide as Sex Goddess, the Broken-Hearted, the Subversive, and the Warrior Queen.
Chinas, Beverly Newbold. Isthmus Zapotecs: A Matrifocal Culture of Mexico. New York: Harcourt-Brace-Jovanovich, 1997. How a female-dominant culture functions in Oaxaca.
Cohen, Jeffrey. Cooperation and Community: Economy and Society in Oaxaca. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999. A pithy, authoritative account of the history, economy, politics, and folkways of the Santañeros—the people of the weaving village of Santa Ana del Valle , in the Valley of Oaxaca . Here, time-honored customs—compadrazgo, guelaguetza, promesas—fuse with latter-day realities to produce a culture simultaneously modern and traditional.
Edinger, Steven T. The Road from Mixtepec. Fresno, CA: Asociación Cívica Benito Juárez (P.O. Box 12320, Fresno, CA 93706), 1996. A compassionately researched and photographed account of the people of San Juan Mixtepec, in the Mixteca Alta region of Oaxaca. The author, through his solid anecdotal narrative, relates the story of how a people whose means of existence have been gradually degraded for the past four hundred years maintain their lives, spirit, and traditions only by repeated emigration to work as marginal farm laborers in northern Mexico and the United States.
Greenberg, James. Blood Ties: Life and Violence in Rural Mexico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993. The author reveals, with a wealth of personal anecdotes, the cultural underpinnings beneath decades of deadly feuding between two leading Chatino towns in Oaxaca’s southern Sierra.
Haden, Judith Cooper, and Matthew Jaffe. Oaxaca, the Spirit of Mexico. New York: Artisan, division of Workman Publishing, Inc., 2002. Simply the loveliest, most sensitively photographed and crafted coffee-table book of Mexico photography yet produced. Photos by Haden, text by Jaffe.
Martinez, Zarela. The Food and Life of Oaxaca. New York: Macmillan, 1997. Martinez, a New York restaurateur, leads her readers on an intriguing tour of Oaxacan folkways by way of the palate. Features chapters on Oaxaca’s seven moles, 150 recipes, and two dozen photos of finished gastronomical creations.
Medina, Sylvia López. Cantora. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. Fascinated by the stories of her grandmother, aunt, and mother, the author seeks her own center by discovering a past that she thought she wanted to forget.
Nader, Laura. Harmony, Ideology, Justice, and Control in a Zapotec Mountain Village. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990. How some northern Sierra Zapotecs solve disputes, using religion-based ideas of harmony to achieve social control.
Palmer, Colin A. Slaves of the White God: Blacks in Mexico. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976. A scholarly study of why and how Spanish authorities imported African slaves into the Americas and how they were used afterward. Replete with poignant details taken from Spanish and Mexican archives describing how the Africans struggled from bondage to eventual freedom.
Stephen, Lynn. Zapotec Women. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992. Study of how women run much of the local economy and a significant fraction of the politics in the Oaxaca Isthmus districts of Tehuántepec and Juchitán.
Toor, Frances. A Treasury of Mexican Folkways. New York: Bonanza Books, 1947, reprinted 1985. An illustrated encyclopedia of vanishing Mexicana—costumes, religion, fiestas, burial practices, customs, legends—compiled during the celebrated author’s 35 years’ residence in Mexico in the early 20th century.
Trilling, Susana. Seasons of My Heart. New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1999. The celebrated Oaxaca author, chef, and cooking teacher leads her readers on a culinary journey of the seven regions of Oaxaca. Along the way, they stop by market towns, mountain hamlets, shoreline villages, and lush highland valleys, visiting the friends with whom she refined the dozens of recipes that introduce the best of Oaxacan cooking. Seasons of My Heart is the companion volume to Trilling’s National Public Television series on Oaxacan cooking.
Campbell, Howard. Zapotec Renaissance: Ethnic Politics and Cultural Revival in Southern Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994. A history of how the Zapotecs around Juchitán, Oaxaca, fought city hall and won.
Dillon, Samuel, and Preston, Julia. Opening Mexico: The Making of a Democracy. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Geroux, 2005. Former Mexico City New York Times bureau chiefs use their rich personal insights and investigative journalistic skill to tell the story of the latter-day evolution of Mexico’s uniquely imperfect democracy. Their story begins during the 1980s, tracing the decay of the 71-year-rule of the PRI, to its collapse, with the election of opposition candidate Vicente Fox in 2000. The actors are vivid and manifold, from rebellious anti-government campesinos in Chiapas and Oaxaca and high federal officials conspiring with druglords to teachers striking for fair pay and an end to political assassination of their colleagues.
Murphy, Arthur D., and Alex Stepick. Social Inequality in Oaxaca. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993. A sociopolitical history of grassroots underclass activism in Oaxaca City  during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
Rubin, Jeffry W. Decentering the Regime. Winston-Salem, NC: Duke University Press, 1997. Ethnicity, radicalism, and democracy in Juchitán, Oaxaca.
Goodson, Gar. Fishes of the Pacific Coast. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988. More than 500 beautifully detailed color drawings highlight this pocket version of all you ever wanted to know about the ocean’s fishes (including common Spanish names) from Alaska to Peru.
Howell, Steve N. G., and Sophie Webb. A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. All the serious bird-watcher needs to know about Mexico’s rich species treasury. Includes authoritative habitat maps and 70 excellent color plates that detail the males and females of around 1,500 species. (For a more portable version, check out Steve Howell’s Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico, 1999.)
Mason Jr., Charles T., and Patricia B. Mason. Handbook of Mexican Roadside Flora. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987. Authoritative identification guide, with line illustrations, of all the plants you’re likely to see in the Oaxaca region.
Morris, Percy A. A Field Guide to Pacific Coast Shells. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974. The complete beachcomber’s Pacific shell guide.
Wright, N. Pelham. A Guide to Mexican Mammals and Reptiles. Mexico City: Minutiae Mexicana, 1989. Pocket-edition lore, history, descriptions, and pictures of commonly seen Mexican animals.