Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

AMLO’s Reading List

Reading Time: 2 minutesWhat the Mexican president’s favorite books say about how he’ll govern.
Reading Time: 2 minutes


Reading Time: 2 minutes

This article was adapted from AQ’s latest print issue. To see the rest of our package on Mexican politics, click here. Leer en español

Mexico’s new president isn’t just an avid reader — he’s written more than a dozen books himself. Most of AMLO’s written work is political. 2018: La Salida, for example, skewered Mexico’s traditional power elites and provided the framework for his government’s agenda. But he’s also written works of history, including a lengthy examination of his home state of Tabasco. AMLO’s taste in reading material is varied, but social struggle is a common theme. 

Don Quixote
By Miguel de Cervantes

Often called the first modern novel, Miguel de Cervantes’ masterwork centers on a would-be knight’s deluded misadventures in the Spanish countryside. AMLO has called it one of the most important pieces of literature in any language and says that the “work about a man pursuing an ideal” is worth celebrating.

By Carlos Pellicer

AMLO’s first foray into professional politics was in support of Carlos Pellicer’s campaign for senator in Tabasco in 1976. A poet, essayist and winner of Mexico’s national literary prize in 1964, Pellicer was also an early campaigner for universal literacy and education following the Mexican revolution. AMLO has said Pellicer had a definitive impact on his political and professional development, and cites the poet’s work among his favorites.

Historia Moderna de México
Edited by Daniel Cosío Villegas

The Mexican economist and historian Daniel Cosío Villegas’ 10-volume collection spans the reign of Porfirio Díaz, from his first election as president in 1876 to the start of the revolution that toppled him in 1911. AMLO used the book as the basis for one of his own works, Neoporfirismo, a scathing indictment of the corrupt relationship between politics and business in 19th- and early 20th-century Mexico that the president says still holds sway today.

Pedro Páramo
By Juan Rulfo

Published in 1955, this book by Mexican author Juan Rulfo is considered one of the finest Latin American novels of the last century. The central action of the story takes place in rural Mexico, portraying a world of strongmen, corruption and a state that has little regard for small-town culture — themes that would have been familiar to the president in his upbringing far from Mexico’s urban power centers.

¿Quién Manda Aquí?
Edited by Felipe González, Gerson Damiana and José Fernández-Albertos

As if the message sent by his cancellation of Mexico City’s $13 billion airport project wasn’t clear, López Obrador had this book at his side when he announced his decision in a Facebook video in October. The content of the volume, co-edited by a former president of Spain and centered on the disconnect between voters and politicians in representative democracies, may have been secondary to the implications of its title: “Who’s in charge here?”

Russell is a senior editor and correspondent in Mexico City for AQ. Follow him on Twitter @BenPaulRussell


Benjamin Russell is a writer based in Los Angeles and Mexico City, and a former editor of AQ.

Tags: AMLO books, AMLO reading list, AMLO's Favorite Books
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