Less than a year after Agua Caliente opened, gangsters held up its money-car in transit to a bank in San Diego, killing the courier and a guard and stealing the company money pouch. Paul J. Vanderwood weaves the story of this heist gone wrong, the search for the killers, and their sensational trial into the overall history of the often-chaotic development of Agua Caliente, Tijuana, and Southern California. Drawing on newspaper accounts, police files, court records, personal memoirs, oral histories, and “true detective” magazines, he presents a fascinating portrait of vice and society in the Jazz Age, and he makes a significant contribution to the history of the U.S.-Mexico border.
"I believe every sunrise and I remember the smell of wet grass, the color of robins, and rustle of leaves on the big oaks that outlive nations, all this comes with each sunrise."
Sonata marks the sixth and final installment of Charles Bowden’s towering “Unnatural History of America” series. While his earlier volumes were suffused with violence and war, Bowden offers here a celebration of rebirth and regrowth. Rendered in Bowden's inimitable style, more prose poetry than reportage, he evokes panoramas that contain the potential for respite and offer a state of grace all but lost in the endless wars of man.
Bowden travels back in time to the worlds of artists Francisco Goya and Vincent van Gogh, the latter painting furiously against encroaching madness. “Van Gogh tries to dream a life of color,” writes Bowden. “Powder blue sheds, yellow stubble, pink skies—but the fears and dark things drag him down.” As Bowden’s vivid prose wrestles with the madness of the world, van Gogh’s paintings represent an act of resistance, ultimately unsuccessful, against depression and suicide.
Moving from the vibrant hues of van Gogh’s painted gardens to America’s southern border, Bowden returns once more to the Mexican asylum run by "El Pastor," Jose Antonio Galvan, who was first introduced to readers of the sextet in Jericho. Here, too, is the dream of a garden that will be planted in the desert, a promise of regeneration in a world gone mad. Poetic, elegiac, and elliptical, Sonata is the final, captivating book of Bowden’s monumental career.
Under constant surveillance and policed by increasingly militarized means, Arizona's border is portrayed in the media as a site of sharp political and ethnic divisions. But this view obscures the region's deeper history. Bringing to light the shared cultural and commercial ties through which businessmen and politicians forged a transnational Sunbelt, Standing on Common Ground recovers the vibrant connections between Tucson, Arizona, and the neighboring Mexican state of Sonora. Geraldo L. Cadava corrects misunderstandings of the borderland's past and calls attention to the many types of exchange, beyond labor migrations, that demonstrate how the United States and Mexico continue to shape one another.In the 1940s, a flourishing cross-border traffic developed in the Arizona-Sonora Sunbelt, as the migrations of entrepreneurs, tourists, shoppers, and students maintained a densely connected transnational corridor. Politicians on both sides worked to cultivate a common ground of free enterprise, spurring the growth of manufacturing, ranching, and agriculture. However, as Cadava illustrates, these modernizing forces created conditions that marginalized the very workers who propped up the regional economy, and would eventually lead to the social and economic instability that has troubled the Arizona-Sonora borderland in recent times.Grounded in rich archival materials and oral histories, Standing on Common Ground clarifies why we cannot understand today's fierce debates over illegal immigration and border enforcement without identifying the roots of these problems in the Sunbelt's complex pan-ethnic and transnational history.
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