Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Kindle Edition is Live: Francisco I. Madero's Secret Book of 1911, The Spiritist Manual, Translated by Yours Truly

The Kindle edition of the Spiritist Manual, my translation of Francisco I. Madero's Manual espírita, is available-- as of today (though the official pub date is this Friday)-- at www.amazon.com
I will be giving a lecture about this most unusual book on Thursday November 10 as part of the "Author's Sala" reading series in San Miguel de Allende. Click here for more about that.

Apart from its extraordinary content, and the fact that Madero's Spiritist Manual is one of the earliest Spanish language manifestos of this new religion, what stands out about this work is that it was prepared precisely during the brief period when Madero's political career was rocketing to its apex: he was campaigning throughout the country for the Mexican Presidency, then fighting the Mexican Revolution both in Mexico and, variously, from exile in Texas and New Orleans; and then, running again for the presidency— which, later in 1911, he was to win.

As Mexican historians Enrique Krauze, Yolia Tortolero, Alejandro Rosas and Manuel Guerra, among others, have emphasized, Madero's Spiritism undergirded his political philosophy and actions as candidate for the presidency, as leader of the Revolution, and as President, many of which were incomprehensible to and/or misinterpreted by both his supporters and his adversaries. For this reason, the Spiritist Manual is a fundamentally important work for anyone who would study Madero and the Mexican Revolution.

It is also a vital work in the history of both Spiritism itself and modern gnostic Christianity. Whatever one's personal beliefs may be, it would be intellectually naïve to dismiss Madero's Spiritism as mere superstition, as most people who first hear of it and indeed, most of his biographers, do. Spiritism emerged in a context of the mid- to late 19th century's far-reaching scientific experientation; moreover, it has its place alongside other religions that emerged in the same century, among them, Christian Science, Mormonism, Spiritualism, and Theosophy.

>> Q & A here.

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After publishing so many books the old-fashioned way, it has been such a strange experience to publish a book first as an e-book. This afternoon, I caught a typo after it was uploaded onto Kindle, which I fixed immediately, and Kindle registered the change within the hour. Anyone who has published (print) books knows that stomach-churning, wide-awake-at-3-am anguish about typos. (No matter how many times and how many people check it, there is always a typo, or thirty-nine.) What a luxury it is to be able to make corrections!

And another ginormous change: I couldn't-- and I shouldn't-- give a squished fig about manoevering this book into brick-and-mortar bookstores. Not that it doesn't have readers, but because it's so unusual, and very specifically Mexican, I don't think it would get far into ye olde agent-house-distributor-store-shelf labyrinth-o-rama. So what I want for this book are the right "tags" for google searches and the like. I spent two hours this evening going over the book's entry on amazon.com and this newfangled shelfari.com thing. What a world we've plopped into! In publishing, as in so many other areas of the economy, wierdly, it's becoming drastically constricted even while opportunities are dramatically expanding.

But yes, there will be a print edition, as well as an iBook and Nook edition of the Spiritist Manual. Stay tuned.