Latin American Works from Plaza Books

- by Michael Stillman

Plaza33

Latin American Works from Plaza Books

Plaza Books has prepared their List 33. Plaza specializes in Latin American works, with Mexico and Central America predominant. Dates range from the 17th to the 20th century, the languages found are Spanish and English. Works are sized from posters to several volumes. Several, though of Mexican origin at the time, relate to what is now the southwestern states of the U.S.A. Here are a few of the items we found in this latest selection.

Item 20 consists of three letters on the official letterhead of the State of Nuevo Leon (Mexico) to the Mayor of Linares, dated 1830-1832. They pertain to requests for fairly small numbers of rifles, horses, and financial support to deal with raids by Pames and Apache Indians. Despite centuries of attempts by Spanish, and later Mexican authorities to subdue the Indian tribes, some natives continued to resist authority well into the 20th century (some still object). Priced at $850.

Item 16 is A New Survey of the West Indies, by Thomas Gage, the 1699 “enlarg'd” fourth edition. Gage was an Englishman, but he moved to Spain, where he became a Catholic priest. From there he traveled to Mexico in 1625, where he spent the next 16 years. Spain jealously guarded all knowledge about their American colonies, fearful that others might use that information to gain control over their resources. Except for his being a Catholic priest from Spain, it is unlikely he could have moved about the area so freely. After 16 years, Gage returned home, but not Spain, to England. He switched sides, both nationally and religiously, converting to an Anglican priest. He then wrote his tell-all book, which provided the world with information about the New World otherwise hidden by Spanish authorities. In 1656, he returned to the West Indies, Jamaica specifically. The island had recently been seized by the British, and it is likely Gage played a role in their decision to grab the poorly guarded Spanish colony. $2,750.

Item 33 is Tratado de Fortification Pasajara... by Antonio de Santa Anna, translated from French by Jose Ignacio Serrano. This is an 1854 first Mexican edition of a military manual for training Mexican troops. Why Santa Anna, the Mexican general and leader known primarily for losing Texas, would write such a manual in French, and need to have someone else translate it to Spanish, is mystifying. As Plaza points out, “Santa-Anna, as was his way, seems to have taken credit where it was not in the slightest due.” $675.

Item 40 is The War in Nicaragua by the man who instigated it, William Walker. Walker hoped to carve out a nation he could rule in Central America. In 1853, he invaded Mexico, planning to capture the northern part for a new nation. His attack was repulsed, but Walker was not discouraged. In 1856, he led a small group of armed men into Nicaragua, and amazingly enough, succeeded in taking control. His plan was to open the country for slavery, which would earn him the support of the American South. However, Walker unwisely antagonized U.S. shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, hurting his chances for support in the North, and was unable to withstand a coalition of Central American countries. He was forced to flee. He attempted a return in 1857, but was stopped by the U.S. Navy, then made another attempt in 1860. This time, the British caught him while attempting to rally a return from Honduras. They turned him over to Honduran authorities who promptly executed Walker. His account was published in 1860, shortly after he died. $950.