Apostle of Progress. Modesto C. Rolland, Global Progressivism, and the Engineering of Revolutionary Mexico
J. Justin Castro
Lincoln, NE: Nebraska University Press, 2019.
The Mexican Experience Series
38 photographs, 12 illustrations, index
About the Book
From the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, Mexico experienced major transformations influenced by a global progressive movement that thrived during the Mexican Revolution and influenced Mexico’s development during subsequent governments. Engineers and other revolutionary technocrats were the system builders who drew up the blueprints, printed newspapers, implemented reforms, and constructed complexity—people who built modern Mexico with an eye on remedying long-standing problems through social, material, and infrastructural development during a period of revolutionary change.
In Apostle of Progress J. Justin Castro examines the life of Modesto C. Rolland, a revolutionary propagandist and a prominent figure in the development of Mexico, to gain a better understanding of the role engineers played in creating revolution-era policies and the reconstruction of the Mexican nation. Rolland influenced Mexican land reform, petroleum development, stadium construction, port advancements, radio broadcasting, and experiments in political economy. In the telling of Rolland’s story, Castro offers a captivating account of the Mexican Revolution and the influence of global progressivism on the development of twentieth-century Mexico.
J. Justin Castro is an assistant professor of history at Arkansas State University. He is the author of Radio in Revolution: Wireless Technology and State Power in Mexico, 1897–1938 (Nebraska, 2016).
“Castro’s Apostle of Progress is a significant achievement. In this compelling biography of the influential engineer Modesto C. Rolland, the author sheds new light on the critical, yet poorly understood role of technological experts in the Mexican Revolution and its aftermath.”—J. Brian Freeman, coeditor of Technology and Culture in Twentieth-Century Mexico
“Justin Castro has produced an extraordinary examination of Mexican revolutionary and post-revolutionary politics through an intriguing, elucidating life-and-times biography of Modesto Rolland, multifaceted engineer, inventor, builder, and media entrepreneur. . . . This biography will intrigue any student of twentieth-century Mexican history, mirroring numerous qualities found in John W. F. Dulles’s classic Yesterday in Mexico.”—Roderic Ai Camp, author of Intellectuals and the State in Twentieth-Century Mexico
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Matters of Perspective
1. Child of the Porfiriato, Child of the Periphery
2. The Reluctant Revolutionary
3. A Mexican Progressive
4. Back to the Periphery
5. War and Peace
7. Opportunity, Defeat, and the Death of Virginia Garza de Rolland
8. A Stadium for Stridentopolis
9. Mr. Bothersome
10. The Undersecretary
11. Going Big
12. Out of the Ports and into the Hills
Conclusion: Final Thoughts about Modesto Rolland’s Life and Legacy