The Fire and the Word
A History of the Zapatista Movement
"In The Fire and the Word. . . Gloria Muñoz chronicles the progression of zapatismo from its armed emergence through ten years of systematic Mexican government containment - the so-called 'war of low intensity.' Muñoz' chronological approach. . . enable[s] her to summarize internal and external events that often are overlooked or have been forgotten by those interested in or affiliated with the movement. It is marvelously illustrated: the photographs, illustrations, and sketches are presented with detailed clarity on high-quality paper. Muñoz' book. . . presents a very valuable review of zapatismo from 1994 through 2003." —Robert Joe Stout
Political Media Review
"Covering the movement from its conception, when a few urban guerrillas joined with indigenous leaders to plant the seeds of revolution, Muñoz provides an intimate and well detailed [account of] Zapatista history through the first 10 years . . . The book is described by [Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante] Marcos as a giant tapestry filled with 'those little pieces of mirrors and crystals that make up the history of the EZLN.' In these mirrors, the reader may see parts of themselves reflected. But the Zapatistas believe every person, and every movement, must grow through their own experience. Therefore, they offer 'a mirror that isn't you, it just helps you see how you are.'"
— Sarat Colling
"For a book on the Zapatista movement to be called its most comprehensive history by insurgent leader Subcomandante Marcos, a work must be exceptionally meaningful. Yet amid a sea of writings on the Zapatistas, one book, composed by an author with intimate knowledge of the struggle, stands alone as just that text…A purely academic book it is not, nor should it be. The Fire and the Word should be considered a touchstone in telling the tale of a crusade that, as Zapata long before, soldiers on for dignity and freedom."
Midwest Book Review
"Black-and-white photographs and sketches on virtually every other page enhance The Fire & the Word: A History of the Zapatista Movement, a chronicle of the modern social movement in Mexico that had its origins in 1983 and became known to the world at large in 1994, in protest of globalization, corporate neoliberalism, the North American Free Trade Agreement and consequent end of Mexican crop subsidies (since Mexican crops were no longer able to financially compete with machine-driven American agribusiness), and other issues. Though the Zapatista Movement had its roots in communities of indigenous and Mayan descent, its precepts of equality (including equality for women), democracy, liberty, justice, independence, housing, health, education, and peace extend to all Mexicans. After the movement's 1994 uprising was put down by the Mexican military, the movement transformed its methodology from armed resistance to making use of the internet to garner support among nongovernmental organizations and solidarity groups. First-person testimonies are intermeshed with the historical narrative, offering a view of this revolutionary movement (not a political party, since its ideology forbids its members from running for elected office per se) that evenly blends scholarly and humanitarian perspectives. Highly recommended for college library shelves, and anyone researching the roots, direction, and future of the Zapatista movement."
"Mexican journalist Gloria Muñoz Ramírez. . . left her work, her family, and her friends to live in Zapatista communities. Her book The Fire and the Word: A History of the Zapatista Movement is the result of seven years of research, interviews, and—most importantly—listening in Zapatista territory."
Book News, Inc.
"A journalist in her native Mexico City, Ramírez left her work, family, and friends in 1997 to live in the Zapatista communities for seven years. She traces the history of the movement of indigenous people in southern Mexico from a decade before its military emergence to the 2005 declaration of a new political movement and a new politics. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos contributes, along with Mexican writer and journalist Hermann Bellinghausen . . ."
"While Subcomandante Marcos calls The Fire and the Word 'the most complete version of the public history of the Zapatistas,' the real gems in Muñoz's book are the unprecedented interviews with insurgents who participated in the clandestine organizing and the 1994 uprising. No other book published in any language contains these intimate details about the EZLN’s initial organizing process, its decision to go to war, and insurgents’ training and battle experiences—all straight from the mouths of the insurgents themselves. . . . Thanks to Muñoz’s intimate understanding of zapatismo and the EZLN’s input in the book’s editing stage, readers understand the most important lesson the Zapatistas have to offer activists struggling against neoliberalism: how to build a movement against the government that makes demands of the government without being co-opted by the government. . . . The Fire and the Word is an important resource and tool. Long-time Zapatista activists will appreciate the new interviews with the founding insurgents of the EZLN, and activists who want to learn more about the Zapatista struggle will benefit from the crash-course in Zapatista history. Everyone can use the book as Muñoz does, as a starting point for discussions about autonomy wherever we’re fighting for justice and equality."