In his books The Great Plains, The Great Frontier, and The Texas Rangers, historian Walter Prescott Webb created an enduring image of fearless, white, Anglo male settlers and lawmen bringing civilization to an American Southwest plagued with "savage" Indians and Mexicans. So popular was Webb's vision that it influenced generations of historians and artists in all media and effectively silenced the counter-narratives that Mexican American writers and historians were concurrently producing to claim their standing as "gente decente," people of worth.
These counter-narratives form the subject of Leticia M. Garza-Falcón's study. She explores how prominent writers of Mexican descent-such as Jovita González, Américo Paredes, María Cristina Mena, Fermina Guerra, Beatriz de la Garza, and Helena María Viramontes -have used literature to respond to the dominative history of the United States, which offered retrospective justification for expansionist policies in the Southwest and South Texas. Garza-Falcón shows how these counter-narratives capture a body of knowledge and experience excluded from "official" histories, whose "facts" often emerged more from literary techniques than from objective analysis of historical data.
Runner-up, Best Popular Fiction in English, Latino Book Awards Competition, 2010
The golondrina is a small and undistinguished swallow. But in Spanish, the word has evoked a thousand poems and songs dedicated to the migrant's departure and hoped-for return. As such, the migrant becomes like the swallow, a dream-seeker whose real home is nowhere, everywhere, and especially in the heart of the person left behind.
The swallow in this story is Amada García, a young Mexican woman in a brutal marriage, who makes a heart-wrenching decision—to leave her young daughter behind in Mexico as she escapes to el Norte searching for love, which she believes must reside in the country of freedom. However, she falls in love with the man who brings her to the Texas border, and the memories of those three passionate days forever sustain and define her journey in Texas. She meets and marries Lázaro Mistral, who is on his own journey—to reclaim the land his family lost after the U.S.-Mexican War. Their opposing narratives about love and war become the legacy of their first-born daughter, Lucero, who must reconcile their stories into her struggle to find "home," as her mother, Amada, finally discovers the country where love beats its infinite wings.
Bárbara Renaud González, a native-born Tejana and acclaimed journalist, has written a lyrical story of land, love, and loss, bringing us the first novel of a working-class Tejano family set in the cruelest beauty of the Texas panhandle. Her story exposes the brutality, tragedy, and hope of her homeland and helps to fill a dearth of scholarly and literary works on Mexican and Mexican American women in post–World War II Texas.
For about a decade, one of the most influential forces in US anti-immigrant politics was the Minuteman Project. The armed volunteers made headlines patrolling the southern border. What drove their ethno-nationalist politics?
Jennifer L. Johnson spent hundreds of hours observing and interviewing Minutemen, hoping to answer that question. She reached surprising conclusions. While the public face of border politics is hypermasculine—men in uniforms, fatigues, and suits—older women were central to the Minutemen. Women mobilized support and took part in border missions. These women compel us to look beyond ideological commitments and material benefits in seeking to understand the appeal of right-wing politics. Johnson argues that the women of the Minutemen were motivated in part by the gendered experience of aging in America. In a society that makes old women irrelevant, aging white women found their place through anti-immigrant activism, which wedded native politics to their concern for the safety of their families. Grandmothers on Guard emphasizes another side of nationalism: the yearning for inclusion. The nation the Minutemen imagined was not only a space of exclusion but also one in which these women could belong.
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