The Americas 61.2 (2004) 262
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Institutional history, it seems, is out of fashion. It has been a long time since the study of a bureaucrat—even one as important as Manuel de Flon—and the institution in which he served has appeared. For those who study Puebla or perhaps even just eighteenth-century Mexico, the focus on Manuel de Flon will not be surprising. Flon was an extremely energetic and even controversial Intendant whose presence seems to have reached much further than the region that he was slated to govern. But Rafael García Pérez' study is not simply a biography of Flon the man or the bureaucrat. It is rather an attempt on the part of the author to use his legal background in order to shed light on the way that Flon implemented the institution of the Intendancy in New Spain and how he operated within the scope of colonial law.
Manuel de Flon was, in himself, an interesting character—flamboyant, aggressive and acerbic. He raised the hackles of many of those around him. But even during his life, his contemporaries recognized him as an efficient and hard-working Intendant and his accomplishments in Puebla were noted and notable. Less well known, perhaps, is his role in fighting in the Hidalgo revolt—on the royalist side, of course—and his dramatic death. But the most important contribution of García Pérez's study is his exhaustively documented examination of Flon's attempts to implement the bureaucratic reforms implied by the creation of the institution of the Intendancy into effect. His work is particularly effective as a case study of the Intendancy within a legal framework of analysis. Perhaps institutional history will undergo resurgence in light of this excellent study.