Paxman, Andrew. Jenkins of Mexico. How a Southern Farm Boy Became a Mexican Magnate.

Paxman, Andrew. Jenkins of Mexico. How a Southern Farm Boy Became a Mexican Magnate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Jenkins of Mexico. How a Southern Farm Boy Became a Mexican Magnate.
Andrew Paxman


  • First biography in English of an American who became the richest man in Mexico.
  • Sheds light on American entrepreneurs who built up multiple industries in Mexico, including textile mills, real estate, banking, and film.
  • Highly readable story of a man who was larger than life.


In the city of Puebla there lived an American who made himself into the richest man in Mexico. Driven by a steely desire to prove himself–first to his wife’s family, then to Mexican elites–William O. Jenkins rose from humble origins in Tennessee to build a business empire in a country energized by industrialization and revolutionary change. In Jenkins of Mexico, Andrew Paxman presents the first biography of this larger-than-life personality.

When the decade-long Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910, Jenkins preyed on patrician property owners and bought up substantial real estate. He suffered a scare with a firing squad and then a kidnapping by rebels, an episode that almost triggered a US invasion. After the war he owned textile mills and the country’s second-largest bank, developed Mexico’s most productive sugar plantation, and helped finance the rise of a major political family, the Ávila Camachos. During the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s-50s, he lorded over the film industry with his movie theater monopoly and key role in production. Reputed as an exploiter of workers, a puppet-master of politicians, and Mexico’s wealthiest industrialist, Jenkins was the gringo that Mexicans loved to loathe. After his wife’s death, he embraced philanthropy and willed his entire fortune to a foundation named for her, which co-founded two prestigious universities and funded projects to improve the lives of the poor in his adopted country.

Using interviews with Jenkins’ descendants, family papers, and archives in Puebla, Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Washington, Jenkins of Mexico tells a contradictory tale of entrepreneurship and monopoly, fearless individualism and cozy deals with power-brokers, embrace of US-style capitalism and political anti-Americanism, and Mexico’s transformation from semi-feudal society to emerging economic power.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Black Legend of William O. Jenkins

Chapter 1: Coming of Age in Tennessee
Chapter 2: Fortune-Seeking in Mexico
Chapter 3: How to Get Rich in a Revolution
Chapter 4: Kidnapped, Jailed, Vilified
Chapter 5: Empire at Atencingo
Chapter 6: Resistance at Atencingo
Chapter 7: With Maximino
Chapter 8: Mining the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema
Chapter 9: Enterprise, Profiteering, and the Death of the Golden Age
Chapter 10: The Jenkins Foundation and the Battle for the Soul of the PRI
Chapter 11: Jenkins’ Earthly Afterlife

Epilogue: The Mixed Legacy of William O. Jenkins


Author Information

Andrew Paxman teaches history and journalism at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City and Aguascalientes. He is the co-author of El Tigre, a biography of the Mexican media mogul Emilio Azcárraga Milmo.

Reviews and Awards

“Historian Paxman’s exhaustive biography of the enigmatic William O. Jenkins reveals that his life had romance, high adventure, mystery, and (movie) magic… [Jenkins of Mexico] is an impressive accomplishment, and readers interested in the evolution of the modern Mexican state will find a fascinating treasure trove here.”–Booklist


Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato, Industria y revolución. Cambio económico y social en el Valle de Orizaba, México

Gómez-Galvarriato, Aurora. Industria y revolución. Cambio económico y social en el Valle de Orizaba, México. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2017.


Industria y revolución. Cambio económico y social en el Valle de Orizaba, MéxicoGómez-Galvarriato, Aurora9786071637727FONDO DE CULTURA ECONÓMICA (FCE)Hubo una época en la que el valle de Orizaba se encontraba en un estado de esplendor industrial y, por consiguiente, en un estado de crecimiento económico. Sin embargo, a partir de dos sucesos importantes en la historia de dicho lugar, la ciudad veracruzana sufrió una dramática transformación económica y social, marcada por bajos salarios, malas condiciones de vida y desempleo. En Orizaba, el crecimiento industrial en el valle -derivado de la revolución industrial- y el desarrollo de la Revolución mexicana, fueron los principales factores que transformaron la estructura política, social y económica de la región. Por ello, la autora analiza en esta obra las causas y consecuencias de tales acontecimientos, explorando la vida de una de las compañías industriales más importantes de la época, así como el papel que desempeñaron los trabajadores textiles y los empresarios dentro de estas revoluciones, considerando los momentos previos y posteriores a ésta.

Gómez-Galvarriato, Aurora
Industria y revolución. Cambio económico y social en el Valle de Orizaba, México/Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato ; trad. de Enrique G. de la G.—México : FCE, COLMEX, UV, 2016
427 pp. : ilus. , 21 x 14 cm.—(Colec. HISTORIA)
1. Industria textil – México – Orizaba (Veracrz-Llave) – Historia – Siglo XX 2. Industria textil – México – Orizaba (Veracruz-Llave) – Historia – Siglo XX 3. Economía – Industria textil – Aspectos sociales – México
LC HD8039.T42Dewey338.47677 G643i

Sitio web del libro:
Conferencia “El desarrollo económico y globalización durante el Porfiriato” de Aurora Gómez Galvarriato en el Centro de Estudios de Historia de México CARSO (abril 29, 2015):

Conferencia “México y la Primera Guerra Mundial 1914-1918” (México, 30 de septiembre de 2015)

Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas


México y la Primera Guerra Mundial

Alan Knight

30 de septiembre de 2015
12 horas

Salón de Actos
Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas
Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Zona cultural
Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, México, DF, 04510
Informes: 56-22-75-16 y 56-22-75-27
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