The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Spanish/Mexican contribution to the culture and economy not only of South
Texas but of American culture in general, particularly that of the West and
Southwest" (p. 97).
Joe S. Graham and his colleagues at Kingsville plan to do a larger investigation
of ranching in South Texas. As he notes, this project is made more difficult by
the absence of many Spanish records pertaining to early land grants in the Nue-
ces Strip. Much work has already been done, however, and the possibility exists
that new sources will be found in Tamaulipas as we gain greater access to the
archives of that state. Until Graham can expand his efforts, El Rancho in South
Texas will remain a useful reminder of the Spanish legacy and the rich vein that
awaits students interested in the origins of Texas ranching.
Austin JACK JACKSON
Juan Cortina and the Texas-Mexico Frontier, 1859-1877. By Jerry D. Thompson. (El
Paso: University of Texas at El Paso, 1994. Pp. ix+o08. Foreword, introduc-
tion, endnotes, appendix, bibliography. ISBN 0-87404-195-3. $12.50, pa-
per.)
Jerry Thompson, professor of history at Texas A&M International University,
is the author of numerous books and articles dealing with Texas history and the
Texas-Mexico border region. In his latest work, he provides extensive introduc-
tory notes as well as a collection of documents pertaining to the career of the
colorful and controversial border figure Juan Nepomuceno Cortina, whose polit-
ical and military activities centered on the Brownsville-Matamoros area.
Thompson begins with an introduction to the historiography on Cortina,
ranging from the interpretations of Cortina as bandit in J. Frank Dobie's A Va-
quero of the Brush Country (1929) and Walter Prescott Webb's classic The Texas
Rangers (1935) to the image of Cortina as defender of chicano rights in Arnoldo
de Le6n's They Called Them Greasers (1983) and RobertJ. Rosenbaum's Mexicano
Resistance in the Southwest (1981). Cortina has also shown up in fictional form in
works such as Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove (1985) and James Michener's
Texas (1985).
The work is organized around nine "pronouncements" by Cortina arranged in
chronological order from 1859 to 1877. They vary considerably in length from
the one-paragraph statement issued in September 1870 following Cortina's sup-
pression of a revolt against the government of President Benito Juarez to an
eighteen-page "biography" of Cortina published to explain his brief connection
to the emperor Maximilian in 1864-1865. Each pronouncement is preceded by
an individual introduction explaining the historical context which produced it
and its source. The pronouncements provide the reader with a good indication
of why the historical interpretations of Cortina have varied so dramatically. In
November 1859 Cortina denounces the "flocks of vampires" exploiting Mexi-
cans in Texas (p. 25); in his self-serving "biography," published in 1870, he de-
scribes his opportunistic service to Maximilian's imperial army as "armed
neutrality" (p. 6o).

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed October 24, 2014.