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Reviews of The Bear and the Porcupine: The US and Mexico

“Amusing read is ‘The US and Mexico’ by Jeffrey Davidow, the American ambassador to Mexico during one of the more turbulent periods in the bilateral relationship, from 1998 to 2002. His memoirs, written in an engagingly ironic tone, are good at picking through the details of Mexico’s endless love/hate relationship with Gringolandia, as the people there like to call their northern neighbour.

“As ambassador, Mr. Davidow mostly had to bear the hate. He recounts how his words would be twisted out of context by the Mexican press, eager to feed their readers yet more evidence of Yankee imperialism. He bore it mostly with good grace, until September 11th, when he rightly chides Mexico for its slow response to America’s cry for support. But he chides his superiors back home too, condemning policies (such as ‘certification,’ America’s annual evaluation of countries’ co-operation in its war against drugs) that routinely and needlessly upset Mexican sensibilities.”

The Economist

“This at times indiscreet memoir provides not only fascinating vignettes of the principal actors in Mexico City, but also sharp profiles of leading U.S. politicians and diplomats as they dealt with the always prickly issues on the U.S.-Mexican agendas. … This vivid account of a vital international relationship, by an ambassador so recently returned from his post, must be unique in its candor.”

Foreign Affairs

“In this vivid memoir, Davidow … dishes valuable descriptions of the cast of political characters involved in U.S.-Mexico diplomacy. His many years of experience … make his a valuable perspective, spiced with poignant humor and sharp criticism that will delight readers interested in what goes on behind closed doors in Washington and Mexico.”

Publishers Weekly

“Review from the frst edition: A 34-year foreign service veteran, Davidow has written an engaging account … wickedly unsparing in his description of foreign policy mandarins on both sides of the border. He is surprisingly forthcoming about the behind-the-scenes diplomatic crises that cropped up on his watch.”

The Washington Post