Robbery Under Law

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First edition (publ. Chapman and Hall)

Robbery Under Law (1939) is a polemic travel book by the British writer Evelyn Waugh. It depicts the Leftist nationalization of the petroleum industry, and the persecution of Catholics in Mexico, under Lázaro Cárdenas, in 1938. Waugh's trip to Mexico was financed by the Cowdray Estate, which held extensive interests in Mexican oil and had suffered heavy losses due to the nationalization.[1]

There is also another book by the same name by the author John Armstrong Chaloner.

Critical reception[edit]

In contrast to Graham Greene's The Lawless Roads, this work of 1930s travel writing found little favor in its time.[1] Today, the book is still not highly regarded. One critic called it "polemical in content, rancorous in tone—by much the dreariest of [Waugh's] travel books".[2] However, at least one critic takes the opposite stance, calling it "[The English] language's greatest single traditionalist credo." [3]


  1. ^ a b Kostopulos, Dan S. "Mexico Imagined: Robbery Under Law and the Lessons of Mexican Travel". In Flor, Carlos Villar & Davis, Robert Murray, eds. (2005). Waugh Without End: New Trends in Evelyn Waugh Studies, pp. 116-17. Peter Lang AG.
  2. ^ Garnett, Robert R. (1990). From Grimes to Brideshead: The Early Novels of Evelyn Waugh, p. 134. Associated University Presses.
  3. ^ Stove, R.J., A Grief Unobserved, The American Conservative, December 2011.


  • Waugh, Evelyn. Robbery Under Law: The Mexican Object-Lesson, Chapman and Hall, 1939. Blue cloth hardcover. The Akadine Press, 1999. Blue paperback, A Common Reader Edition.