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The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plain
Before the invention of the combine, the binder was an essential harvesting implement that cut grain and bound the stalks in bundles tied with twine that could then be hand-gathered into shocks for threshing. Hundreds of thousands of farmers across the United States and Canada relied on binders and the twine required for the machine’s operation. Implement manufacturers discovered that the best binder twine was made from henequen and sisal—spiny, fibrous plants native to the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. The double dependency that subsequently developed between Mexico and the Great Plains of the United States and Canada affected the agriculture, ecology, and economy of all three nations in ways that have historically been little understood. These interlocking dependencies—identified by author Sterling Evans as the “henequen-wheat complex”—initiated or furthered major ecological, social, and political changes in each of these agricultural regions. Drawing on extensive archival work as well as the existing secondary literature, Evans has woven an intricate story that will change our understanding of the complex, transnational history of the North American continent.
Inside the White House Office of Legislative Affairs
In September 2003, seven former heads of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs gathered for the first time ever to compare their experiences working for every president from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton. For two days, these congressional liaisons, charged with moving their respective presidents’ legislative agendas through an independent—and sometimes hostile—Congress, shared first-hand views of the intricacies of presidential-congressional relations: how it works, how it doesn’t work, and the fascinating interplay of personalities, events, and politics that happens along the way. Hosted by noted presidential scholar Russell Riley and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, this seminar also featured a number of invited scholars of American politics, including the eminent Richard E. Neustadt, who appeared just before his death a month later. As explained by Riley, “. . . these discussions enlighten in two ways: they provide us a revealing glimpse into the inside, usually hidden, business of Washington, and they afford us the considered reflections of a thoughtful group of political veterans.” What makes these exchanges especially compelling, however, is their bipartisan cast, with Republicans Max L. Friedersdorf, William L. Ball III, and Frederick McClure joining Democrats Frank Moore, Charles M. Brain, John Hilley, and Lawrence Stein in thoughtful and friendly conversation.
New and Selected Poems
Jack Butler’s Broken Hallelujah: New and Selected Poems is a celebration that refuses to explain away pain and trouble, or to oversell the very transcendence it seeks. Its poems are always musical, whether formal, improvisational, or written according to the music of speech itself.
Butler understands poetry more nearly as the essence of that speech than as one of its products, the heart of the ways we know each other. Some of these forms are as old as English, but the voice stays immediate; and whether dark or hopeful, comic or sober, passionate or calm and knowing, these poems speak with the urgency of praise itself.
School Integration and the Chicano Movement in Houston
Strikes, boycotts, rallies, negotiations, and litigation marked the efforts of Mexican-origin community members to achieve educational opportunity and oppose discrimination in Houston schools in the early 1970s. These responses were sparked by the effort of the Houston Independent School District to circumvent a court order for desegregation by classifying Mexican American children as "white" and integrating them with African American children—leaving Anglos in segregated schools. Gaining legal recognition for Mexican Americans as a minority group became the only means for fighting this kind of discrimination. The struggle for legal recognition not only reflected an upsurge in organizing within the community but also generated a shift in consciousness and identity. In Brown, Not White Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., astutely traces the evolution of the community's political activism in education during the Chicano Movement era of the early 1970s. San Miguel also identifies the important implications of this struggle for Mexican Americans and for public education. First, he demonstrates, the political mobilization in Houston underscored the emergence of a new type of grassroots ethnic leadership committed to community empowerment and to inclusiveness of diverse ideological interests within the minority community. Second, it signaled a shift in the activist community's identity from the assimilationist "Mexican American Generation" to the rising Chicano Movement with its "nationalist" ideology. Finally, it introduced Mexican American interests into educational policy making in general and into the national desegregation struggles in particular. This important study will engage those interested in public school policy, as well as scholars of Mexican American history and the history of desegregation in America.
Past, Present, Future
The presence of brush in rangeland environments continually tops the list of priority issues among landowners, and not just in Texas. Whether they manage their land for livestock, hunting, or wildlife watching, what to do about unwanted woody plants remains a serious and pervasive question for landowners everywhere. In the pages of this book, leading range management professionals introduce and explain not only the mechanisms of managing brush but also the changes in management philosophy and technology that have taken place over time. From the futile attempts at eradication to the successes of integrated brush management, expert practitioners examine mechanical, biological, chemical, and fire-related methods from three perspectives—the past, the present or “state-of-the-art,” and the future. In a final discussion, three specialists address the timely and important subject of brush management as it relates to water yield, economics, and wildlife. Brush Management: Past, Present, Future gives readers a straightforward and comprehensive view of a topic that remains a consistent concern for livestock, wildlife, and land management—one that will serve as a useful and interesting summary of the subject for teachers, students, landowners, and management professionals.
In the middle of the arid summer of 1877, a drought year in West Texas, a troop of some forty buffalo soldiers (African American cavalry led by white officers) struck out into the Llano Estacado from Double Lakes, south of modern Lubbock, pursuing a band of Kwahada Comanches who had been raiding homesteads and hunting parties. A group of twenty-two buffalo hunters accompanied the soldiers as guides and allies. Several days later three black soldiers rode into Fort Concho at modern San Angelo and reported that the men and officers of Troop A were missing and presumed dead from thirst. The “Staked Plains Horror,” as the Galveston Daily News called it, quickly captured national attention. Although most of the soldiers eventually straggled back into camp, four had died, and others eventually faced court-martial for desertion. The buffalo hunters had ridden off on their own to find water, and the surviving soldiers had lived by drinking the blood of their dead horses and their own urine. A routine army scout had turned into disaster of the worst kind. Although the failed expedition was widely reported at the time, its sparse treatments since then have relied exclusively on the white officers’ accounts. Paul Carlson has mined the courts-martial records for testimony of the enlisted men, memories of a white boy who rode with the Indians, and other buried sources to provide the first multifaceted narrative ever published. His gripping account provides not only a fuller version of what happened over those grim eighty-six hours but also a nuanced view of the interaction of soldiers, hunters, settlers, and Indians on the Staked Plains at this poignant moment before the final settling of the Comanches on their reservation in Indian Territory.
A Black Soldiers Anthology
In the decades following the Civil War, scores of African Americans served in the U.S. Army in the West. The Plains Indians dubbed them buffalo soldiers, and their record in the infantry and cavalry, a record full of dignity and pride, provides one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the era. This anthology focuses on the careers and accomplishments of black soldiers, the lives they developed for themselves, their relationships to their officers (most of whom were white), their specialized roles (such as that of the Black Seminoles), and the discrimination they faced from the very whites they were trying to protect. In short, this volume offers important insights into the social, cultural, and communal lives of the buffalo soldiers. The selections are written by prominent scholars who have delved into the history of black soldiers in the West. Previously published in scattered journals, the articles are gathered here for the first time in a single volume, providing a rich and accessible resource for students, scholars, and interested general readers. Additionally, the readings in this volume serve in some ways as commentaries on each other, offering in this collected format a cumulative mosaic that was only fragmentary before. Volume editors Glasrud and Searles provide introductions to the volume and to each of its four parts, surveying recent scholarship and offering an interpretive framework. The bibliography that closes the book will also commend itself as a valuable tool for further research.
The Evolution of a Natural History Museum
A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton along the Mexico-Texas Border
Cotton, crucial to the economy of the American South, has also played a vital role in the making of the Mexican north. The Lower Río Bravo (Rio Grande) Valley irrigation zone on the border with Texas in northern Tamaulipas, Mexico, was the centerpiece of the Cárdenas government’s effort to make cotton the basis of the national economy. This irrigation district, built and settled by Mexican Americans repatriated from Texas, was a central feature of Mexico’s effort to control and use the waters of the international river for irrigated agriculture. Drawing on previously unexplored archival sources, Casey Walsh discusses the relations among various groups comprising the “social field” of cotton production in the borderlands. By describing the complex relationships among these groups, Walsh contributes to a clearer understanding of capitalism and the state, of transnational economic forces, of agricultural and water issues in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands, and of the environmental impacts of economic development. Building the Borderlands crosses a number of disciplinary, thematic, and regional frontiers, integrating perspectives and literature from the United States and Mexico, from anthropology and history, and from political, economic, and cultural studies. Walsh’s important transnational study will enjoy a wide audience among scholars of Latin American and Western U.S. history, the borderlands, and environmental and agricultural history, as well as anthropologists and others interested in the environment and water rights.