The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983

Book Reviews

Edward W. Kilman's Hugh Roy Cullen, Hurt tries to be objective. My
only significant criticism is that I wish Hurt had given more thought
to what H. L. Hunt's life tells us about the economic and social envi-
ronment of Texas during the 1930-196os era. The reader is left to his
own conclusions. Nevertheless, this is a fine book.
University of Texas, Austin DON E. CARLETON
Disorder and Progress: Bandits, Police, and Mexican Development. By
Paul J. Vanderwood. (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska
Press, 1981. Preface, maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Pp. xix+ 264. $21.50, cloth; $8.95, paper.)
For decades scholars mentioned the Rural, or rural policeman, as
one of the characteristics of Porfirio Diaz's rule in Mexico, 1876-1911.
But that was all. Indeed, a whole imagery was created of an almost un-
known entity. Hard knowledge of the Rural was lacking because Mexi-
canist scholarship was so narrowly focused that it virtually excluded the
subjects of banditry and law enforcement. Therefore, Paul J. Vander-
wood's treatment of the Rural reflects both its intrinsic excellence and
the maturing state of Mexican studies.
Vanderwood's thesis is that Mexican history is a dialectic of order
and disorder, in which bandits and police are especially important
actors. While this is hardly an original explanation of Mexican history,
the author's unlabored analysis of the interchangeable roles of bandit
and policeman sustains the thesis admirably. Mexican rural banditry
was born in the colonial period, although this beginning was not sig-
nificant. It was during the nineteenth century, when the country was
engaged in major warfare, that marauding and peace-keeping agencies
came into their own. The Rural Police Force was founded by Benito
Juarez in 1861, and its contribution to political authority increased
until it was absorbed in the 1910o Revolution. Rural banditry was a
product of its times and was motivated by social and economic oppor-
tunism rather than by the stirrings of political reform.
The author taps an endless supply of illustrative anecdotes, although
he should have developed more fully the impact of banditry on con-
temporary popular culture. Some of the book's background sections,
like those dealing with the Porfirian economy and Revolutionary poli-
tics, could have been more effectively subordinated to the primary
theme; most of the time, however, the author skillfully interweaves the
general and the specific. Vanderwood makes intelligent use of the theo-
ries of bandit-police scholars like David H. Bayley, Billy Jaynes Chand-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/. Accessed April 25, 2015.