Mexico City, the mother of all megacities, is known for chaos, overpopulation, and an extreme gap between rich and poor.
John Ross—poet, journalist, activist—first visited the city in 1957 with fellow Bay Area Beats as an expatriate escape. He eventually moved to the place he has come to call “The Monster” just one week after the devastating earthquake of 1985, which killed 30,000 people. El Monstruo is his gritty, vibrant People’s History of 23 million, told from the ground up.
El Monstruo is both a tribute and an indictment, speaking to peoples’ heroes and class warfare, culture and crime, urban beauty and blight, the underbelly and the overclass, environmental degradation and courageous growth, fear and loathing, dread and redemption, hope and corruption.
Ross demonstrates that social forces, not luminaries, drive history as he delves into Mexico City from its geologic beginnings to the Left City it has become in the last decade. Along the way, he explores the rise and fall of the Tenochtitlan and Aztec civilizations, European conquest and genocide, the War of Independence, the Yanqui Invasion (the so-called Mexican War of 1848), three revolutions and their resulting carnage, the Great Depression, the so-called “Mexican Miracle,” social revolts of the 1960’s and 70’s, the Great Electoral Fraud, the foibles of NAFTA, and the Swine Flu Panic of 2009.
Ross’s last book, Murdered Capitalism was called a “must read” by NPR’s Talk of the Nation and a “Best Book of 2004” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Ross’s fifty years covering Mexico for an array of Mexican and U.S. publications including the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Nation, and The Progressive put him in an extraordinary position to tell the complete story of its capital with great insight, and with his quixotic passion and poet’s touch he brings a beat to the narrative that is both of the city and of himself.