El Monstruo by John Ross

El Monstruo

John Ross has been living in the old colonial quarter of Mexico City for the last three decades, a rebel journalist covering Mexico and the region from the bottom up. He is filled with a gnawing sense that his beloved Mexico City’s days as the most gargantuan, chaotic, crime-ridden, toxically contaminated urban stain in the western world are doomed, and the monster he has grown to know and love through a quarter century of reporting on its foib...

Details El Monstruo

TitleEl Monstruo
Release DateNov 24th, 2009
PublisherNation Books
GenreNonfiction, Travel, Autobiography, Memoir, Culture, Cultural Studies, History

Reviews El Monstruo

  • Wanderoo
    John Ross became a chilango when he moved into the Hotel Isabela right after the earthquake in 1985 and lived there until his death in 2011. El Monstruo is his history of Mexico City--mostly factual, full of curious detail, and morbidly funny. It was his last book, and the last time I saw him was when he was in Madison promoting it it--I made a poster for the event, depicting him as a cavalera looking down on el D.F.; not knowing he was so near h...
  • Adam
    I am fortunate to have met John Ross less than a year before he died in 2011 at a book talk for El Monstruo in Chicago. He used a cane as a result of injuries he sustained at the hands of Israeli settlers while supporting Palestinian farmers. Ross is the kind of champion of the stories of ordinary people surviving in the face of unbelievable odds. Like the struggle of the Palestinians, Ross writes of Mexico City residents’ daily fight to surviv...
  • Kent
    As history--cock-eyed; as journalism--sloppy; as memoir--smug and self-congratulatory; as left-wing propaganda--shrill, superficial, and inconsistent; as a chronicle of recent events in a city which is so easy to despise, of which I have some very fond memories even so, and which is home to a number of people for whom I have a genuine and strong affection--not all that bad, actually.
  • C F
    The best book about El DeFectuoso by the best gringo writer living there. John Ross has done it again -- weaving history, poetry, Mexican picardia, political intrigue and cultural comedy into one big burrito of a book.
  • Mark
    They chopped heads then, they chop heads now, they'll chop heads tomorrow.
  • Ellen
    Of all the 1289435983745 books I think I've read on Mexico since I first went there last year, I think this is my favorite. Many of the facts were things I already knew or vaguely remembered, but there was much more to this book in terms of political scandals and cultural figures, which made me feel like I was somehow more situated in the inner circle after reading it.
  • Daniel
    An irreverent history of Mexico, but mostly it's capital city, from the Pleistocene to swine flu. Mexico City is an enormous and unwieldy mess. 20 million people, 15% unemployment, housing the richest man in the world and many of the world's poorest. Some of the worst air quality on the planet, and a constantly depleting water table. But Mexico City is also the national stage for Mexico the country, a city where leftist currents have taken hold f...
  • Arnoldo Garcia
    El Monstruo [The Monster:] by John Ross is a compelling story and page-turner. El Monstruo is none other than Mexico City, Tenochtitlan and her environs by other names, that keeps rising from the ruins of those who have come from the outside and conquerored -- or so they believe -- Mexico City, a sinking and stinking globolopolis.John Ross situates himself among those (mainly white) American writers that trekked to Mexico to write, in some self-d...
  • Carol
    I have mixed feelings about this book. I love Ross' writing style and I like how well he understands the history and the politics of this amazing city. I deplore the fact that he doesn't address the beauty of that culture: the music, the joyousness that the Mexican people can find even in the midst of tragedy, the food, the color, poetry, literature and comedy. Part political gossip (and pretty juicy at that) and part history of wars and intrigue...
  • Tom Galvin
    This is as sprawling a book as the city this great writer describes. Prepare to get lost in the murky and complicated world of Mexican affairs from the beginnings of Mexico City in 1325 to the modern mess of corruption, poverty and crime. I had reasons other than pleasure for reading this and so took more time than normal, a neccessity given the names, parties, dates and events that are littered throughout every page. This is a passionate, almost...
  • Christy
    It's the ultimate insider's guide, and it does help to have spent time in the city, particularly as a "political tourist," and to be as fascinated with it as Ross was, to enjoy this book. His jazzy, irreverent voice isn't your graduate history professor's, and that's a plus. To those of us who met or knew John Ross, local San Francisco legend that he was, just about every line puts him right back there in front of you. But every great city deserv...
  • Mark
    This book reads like a cliffs notes version of the history of Mexico through the lens of Mexico city. John Ross covers sooo much - It's the books strength and its weakness. I just wish he had spent some more time on some of these stories to fill them out. Even if it had pushed the page count over 500, it would have been worth it!
  • Gwen
    An interesting and eccentric history of Mexico City, from the point of view of an American expatriate. Reminded me of reading Mike Royko's writings about Chicago. I didn't QUITE finish it before sending it off to my mom for her birthday (don't tell her!)
  • Michael Andersen-Andrade
    El Monstruo is an irreverent and well-written history of Mexico City by an American author who has lived there since 1985. John Ross has both a strong love for its vitality and a realistic perspective on its failings. I recommend this book for anyone who wants a new look at Mexican history.
  • Anne Tinklenberg
    A sprawling narrative detailing the crushing history of Mexico City. I loved that the author's voice was so present - the opposite of an attempt to objectively tell the story.
  • Michael
    read it
  • Charles Kerns
    Ex-beat does Mexico. The book wanders as did Ross in his life. Book is bloated, but readable, because of its topic. I almost trust what Ross says. He tried. That's good enough for me.
  • Jason
    This beautiful and damning, hilarious and infuriating paean to and indictment of Mexico City is the best history I've read on any subject ever.
  • Aaron
    Review to come...
  • Manny Ellison
    Depressing but very informative.