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Before the Reservation
Once called the Lords of the Plains, the Comanches were long portrayed as loose bands of marauding raiders who capitalized on the Spanish introduction of horses to raise their people out of primitive poverty through bison hunting and fierce warfare. More recent studies of the Comanches have focused on adaptation and persistence in Comanche lifestyles and on Comanche political organization and language-based alliances. In Comanche Society: Before the Reservation, Gerald Betty develops an exciting and sophisticated perspective on the driving force of Comanche life: kinship. Betty details the kinship patterns that underlay all social organization and social behavior among the Comanches and uses the insights gained to explain the way Comanches lived and the way they interacted with the Europeans who recorded their encounters. Rather than a narrative history of the Comanches, this account presents analyses of the formation of clans and the way they functioned across wide areas to produce cooperation and alliances; of hierarchy based in family and generational relationships; and of ancestor worship and related religious ceremonies as the basis for social solidarity. The author then considers a number of aspects of Comanche life—pastoralism, migration and nomadism, economics and trade, warfare and violence—and how these developed along kinship lines. In considering how and why Comanches adopted the Spanish horse pastoralism, Betty demonstrates clearly that pastoralism was an expression of indigenous culture, not the cause of it. He describes in detail the Comanche horse culture as it was observed by the Spaniards and the Indian adaptation of Iberian practices. In this context, he looks at the kinship basis of inheritance practices, which, he argues, undergirded private ownership of livestock. Drawing on obscure details buried in Spanish accounts of their time in the lands that became known as Comanchería, Betty provides an interpretive gaze into the culture of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Comanches that offers new organizing principles for the information that had been gathered previously. This is cutting-edge history, drawing not only on original research in extensive primary documents but also on theoretical perspectives from other disciplines.
Across the Pacific on the USS Tate
The first authoritative history of any of the more than 350 attack transports or attack cargo ships of World War II, Combat Loaded: Across the Pacific on the USS Tate contains gripping combat narratives alongside the sometimes heartwarming, sometimes tragic details of daily life on board the ships of Transport Squadron 17 during the waning days of World War II. Author Thomas E. Crew interviewed over fifty veterans of the Tate, including all her surviving officers. Crew weaves a rich tapestry of voices, combining it with extensive analysis of the Tate’s daily action reports and ship’s logs, accented by lively letters of the period from private collections—including previously unpublished accounts of the last days of famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Crew also presents a rare unit-level perspective of joint operations involving the infantry fighting ashore and the navy transports that sustained them with their vital combat cargo. The resulting richly illustrated work presents perhaps the most comprehensive account to date of the experiences and courageous contributions of those who served on amphibious transports during World War II.
The Eighth U.S. Army on the Eve of the Korean War
In the decades since the “forgotten war” in Korea, conventional wisdom has held that the Eighth Army consisted largely of poorly trained, undisciplined troops who fled in terror from the onslaught of the Communist forces. Now, military historian Thomas E. Hanson argues that the generalizations historians and fellow soldiers have used regarding these troops do little justice to the tens of thousands of soldiers who worked to make themselves and their army ready for war. In Hanson's careful study of combat preparedness in the Eighth Army from 1949 to the outbreak of hostilities in 1950, he concedes that the U.S. soldiers sent to Korea suffered gaps in their professional preparation, from missing and broken equipment to unevenly trained leaders at every level of command. But after a year of progressive, focused, and developmental collective training—based largely on the lessons of combat in World War II—these soldiers expected to defeat the Communist enemy. By recognizing the constraints under which the Eighth Army operated, Hanson asserts that scholars and soldiers will be able to discard what Douglas Macarthur called the "pernicious myth" of the Eighth Army's professional, physical, and moral ineffectiveness.
The Life and Times of Major General Henry C. Merriam, 1862-1901
During his thirty-eight-year career as a military officer, Henry Clay Merriam received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Civil War, rose to prominence in the Western army, and exerted significant influence on the American West by establishing military posts, protecting rail lines, and maintaining an uneasy peace between settlers and Indians. Historian Jack Stokes Ballard’s new study of Merriam’s life and career sheds light on the experience of the western fort builders, whose impact on the US westward expansion, though less dramatic, was just as lasting as that of Indian fighters such as Custer and Sheridan. Further, Merriam’s lengthy period in command of black troops offers a study in leadership and important understandings about the conditions under which African Americans served on the Western frontier. During the course of his service, Merriam crisscrossed the country, from Brownsville, Texas, to the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Barracks, serving in eastern Washington, California, and Denver. Drawing extensively on the many letters and records associated with Merriam’s long army career, Ballard presents his service in a wide range of settings, many of which have become the stuff of Western history: from conflict with Mexican revolutionaries on the Rio Grande to the miners’ riots in Coeur d’Alene. Ballard’s careful research provides a vivid picture of the military’s role in the westward expansion.
A Comprehensive Manual
Landowners and managers, municipalities, the logging and livestock industries, and conservation professionals all increasingly recognize that setting prescribed fires may reduce the devastating effects of wildfire, control invasive brush and weeds, improve livestock range and health, maintain wildlife habitat, control parasites, manage forest lands, remove hazardous fuel in the wildland-urban interface, and create residential buffer zones. In this practical and helpful manual, John R. Weir, who has conducted more than 720 burns in four states, offers a step-by-step guide to the systematic application of burning to meet specific land management needs and goals.
Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall
The topic of the border wall between the United States and Mexico continues to be broadly and hotly debated: on national news media, by local and state governments, and even in coffee shops and over the dinner table. By now, broad segments of the population have heard widely varying opinions about the wall’s effect on illegal immigration, international politics, and the drug war. ?But what about the wall’s effect on the Sonoran pronghorn antelope herds and the kit fox? On the Mexican gray wolf, the ocelot, the jaguar, and the bighorn sheep??In unforgettable images and evocative text, Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall helps readers understand all that is at stake. ?As Krista Schlyer explains, the remoteness of this region from most US citizens’ lives, coupled with the news media’s focus on illegal immigration and drug violence, has left many with an incomplete picture. As she reminds us, this largely isolated natural area, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, hosts a number of rare ecosystems: Arizona’s last free-flowing river, the San Pedro; the grasslands of New Mexico, some of the last undeveloped prairies on the continent; the single most diverse birding area in the US, located along the lower Rio Grande River in Texas; and habitat and migration corridors for some of both nations’ most imperiled species.?In documenting the changes to the ecosystems and human communities along the border while the wall was being built, Schlyer realized that the impacts of immigration policy on wildlife, on landowners, and on border towns were not fully understood by either policy makers or the general public. The wall not only has disrupted the ancestral routes of wildlife; it has also rerouted human traffic through the most pristine and sensitive of wildlands, causing additional destruction, conflict, and death—without solving the original problem.
Coral reefs declined worldwide during the 1980s and 1990s, making them perhaps the most endangered marine ecosystem on Earth. This realization spurred John W. Tunnell Jr. and others to write a comprehensive book that would raise awareness of coral reefs and their plight. Tunnell and coeditors Ernesto A. Chávez and Kim Withers present an integrated and broad-ranging synthesis, while Mexican and U.S. experts assess the current state of these fragile systems and offer a framework for their restoration. Beginning with a history of the research done in this region, Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico covers the geography, geology, oceanography, ecology, and biodiversity of the thirty-eight “emergent” or platform-type coral reefs in the southern Gulf. The editors include chapters on the biota—from algae to fish—followed by a look at environmental impacts, both natural (such as hurricanes and red tides) and human (such as ship groundings and dredging). The book closes with a discussion of conservation issues, which is both descriptive and prescriptive in its assessment of what has been done and what should be done to protect and manage these vital ecosystems.
Defending the Mexican Name in Texas
At a time when the U.S.-Mexican border was still not clearly defined and when the doctrine of Manifest Destiny and land hunger impelled the Anglo presence ever deeper and more intrusively into South Texas, Juan Nepomucino Cortina cut a violent swath across the region in a conflict that came to be known as The Cortina War. Did this border caudillo fight to defend the rights, honor, and legal claims of the Mexicans of South Texas, as he claimed? Or was his a quest for personal vengeance against the newcomers who had married into his family, threatened his mother’s land holdings, and insulted his honor? Historian Jerry Thompson mines the archival record and considers it in light of recent revisionist history of the region. As a result, he produces not only a carefully nuanced work on Cortina—the most comprehensive to date for this pivotal borderlands figure—but also a balanced interpretation of the violence that racked South Texas from the 1840s through the 1860s. Cortina’s influence in the region made him a force to be reckoned with during the American Civil War. He influenced Mexican politics from the 1840s to the 1870s and fought in the Mexican Army for more than forty-five years. His daring cross-border cattle raids, carried out for more than two decades, made his exploits the stuff of sensational journalism in the newspapers of New York, Boston, and other American cities. By the time of his imprisonment in 1877, Cortina and his followers had so roiled South Texas that Anglo reprisals were being taken against Mexicans and Tejanos throughout the region, ironically worsening the racism that had infuriated Cortina in the beginning. The effects of this troubled period continue to resonate in Anglo-Mexican and Anglo-Tejano relations, down to this very day. Students of regional and borderlands history will find this premier biography to be a rich source of new perspectives. Its transnational focus and balanced approach will reward scholarly and general readers alike.
The Story of Ed Blanchard
Ed Blanchard was best known for making spurs that fit a cowboy's boots. Yet Blanchard was known to family and friends as a wild, reckless cowboy long before horsemen of the West recognized him as a master maker of cowboy spurs. It was his years spent herding cattle and cinching his saddle on broncs that taught him his trade as both a cowboy and a spur maker. This lively, illustrated story of the man and his craft relies heavily on the memories of Blanchard's cousin, New Mexico rancher Tom Kelly of Water Canyon, who grew up with Ed and his friends. Co-author Jane Pattie has researched the times and added historical background, and she has also drawn on interviews she did with Blanchard for her earlier book, Cowboy Spurs and Their Makers. But it is from Kelly that she has uncovered Blanchard's work in the cattle business and how he learned from a neighboring rancher the art of hammering hot steel into the shape of spurs. Kelly's ranch life as well as his own spurs are also pictured in this attractive and inviting little volume. Together, Pattie and Kelly tell a dual tale of old times and of change: the story of spur making as experienced by one of its more prolific practitioners and the story of cowboys in the early part of the twentieth century. Through Blanchard's experiences, the authors trace the changes of western life, from horse to pickup truck, from hand-forged spurs to those of commercial manufacture. Ranch life, cowboying, and metalworking in the American West are interwoven through the book, as they were in the real life of Ed Blanchard, who emerges from these pages as a humorous, down-home regional character readers will be glad to get to know.
Travel and Travel Writing in Modern Times
“ . . . travel as an exploration of ‘the other’ which becomes an exploration of the self . . . a confirmation of identity.”—from the Introduction, by Frank Trommler In an age when travel was more difficult but leisure was more available, those who journeyed across the Atlantic from the Old World to America or back created a wonderful literature about the divergent cultures and the fertile interactions among them. In travel diaries, journals, novels, journalistic reports, and guide books, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers recorded impressions and ruminations that not only offer opportunities for comparison and contrast but also shed light on the processes of modernization and the future that would emerge on both sides of the Atlantic. This latest offering from the important Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures series explores themes like urbanization, modernization, education, gender, Jewish identity, nationalism and internationalism, political and cultural values, and the experience of travel itself. Volume editors Thomas Adam and Nils Roemer have assembled a collection of varied studies that permit enlightened reflection on the ways in which travelers from the New and Old Worlds have observed, documented, understood, and negotiated their similarities and differences. The freshness and variety of the previously little-heard voices documented in Crossing the Atlantic will serve as an important reminder that an attentive interaction with “foreignness” has been and will continue to be one of the best paths to a more enlightened engagement with the familiar.