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98Southwestern Historical Quarterly]u\y and a sandstorm of facts and statistics dry as the landscape through which most of the highway runs. Happily, Howard J. Erlichman, in Camino del Norte: How a Series of Watering Holes, Fords, andDirt Trails Evolved into Interstate35 in Texas, manages to avoid these pitfalls, and the book turns out to be well-crafted and engaging, while making a convincing case for the central importance of I-35's development—a "towering achievement," as he calls it (p. ix)—to an understanding of trade and setdement patterns in the region. Erlichman begins with the prehistory of what would become Mexico and south-central Texas, and follows the development oftrade and transportation routes through Inca, Mayan, and Aztec cultures and up to the forbiddingwastes beyond the Rio Grande. Even this early in the history ofI-35, it becomes clear how strong the ties are and have always been between southwest Texas and Mexico compared to those between that region and the rest of the United States. After the Spanish conquest, we follow the struggles to extend and establish more permanent routes toward the north and east through those hostile lands. The slow, painful development of the future I-35 path becomes something like trying to forge a river one mile at a time; in fact, through these areas the road will function much like a river in more favored landscapes. It will determine patterns of setdement, permit networks of tributary routes to emerge, and facilitate the flow ofgoods and population through a huge region largely hostile to permanent human setdement. As with any account ofTexas history, the book eventually devolves from frontier exoticism into the prosaic urban bureaucracy of budgets and bills. Like the actual I-35, the digressions Erlichman calls off-ramps often lead into a confusion of details , leaving us unclear where one ends and the main road resumes. However, the author's enthusiasm for the subject is evident; clearly, he wants to spark in us some of the old frontier wonder at the very idea of a highway. In fact, the book argues indirectly for the quality and extensiveness of roads as a defining element of civilized culture. One of the unexpected fascinations of Camino delNorte is its detailed focus on the mechanics of the process—the planning and surveying involved, the sheer physical labor of clearing and road-building, and the vagaries of materials and construction. The heat and sweat are palpable as we follow the ripping-out of stumps and clearing of brush, the laying of rubble and macadam and concrete. After reading this book, no driver will ever again take for granted the solid, smooth, and well-serviced highway over which the car speeds. HoustonSteven Wolfe JoséMaria deJesús Carvajal: TheLife and Times ofa Mexican Revolutionary. ByJoseph E. Chance. (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2006. Pp. 288. Map, chronology, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 159534340207. $35.00, cloth.) Among the most challenging subjects to explain for those interested in Texas and Mexican history are the conflicts Mexico faced in creating its nation-state during the years from 1 82 1 to 1867. Central to these wars between liberals and conservatives was 2007Book Reviews99 José María dejesús Carvajal, an Americanized liberal who helped create Texas by his efforts as a surveyor, by his work as a legislator during the difficult years before the Texas Revolution, and finally during the manywars in northern Mexico forfederalist liberalism during the 1840s and 1 850s. His Plan de la Loba provides insight into his idealistic and hopeful attempt at reinstituting states-rights governments, although it never succeeded. In between the local batdes, he fought for Mexico against the American invaders from 1846 to 1848, and against the French during the 1860s. His life ended in 1874, after he had spent the last years of his life helping Benito Juárez, the Mexican liberal, find support in the United States. Professor Chance notes that Carvajal, who spoke fluent English, never forgot that he was "a true Mexican" (p. 203), although the author argues that Carvajal's use ofAnglos among his troops and his Protestant faith turned many Mexicans against him for being "agringado...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 98-99
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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