The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

female support for the war and hasten defeat. This is a seminal revisionist work
and a major contribution to the growing literature on gender and the Civil War.
University of Houston-Victoria JUDITH N. MCARTHUR
Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier. By
Ana Maria Alonso. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995. Pp. vii+303. In-
troduction, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8165-1511-5. $45.00.)
In this book, Ana Maria Alonso illuminates the connection between colonial
and revolutionary times for the serranos, the non-indigenous "people of the
mountains" of Chihuahua. Focusing on the rural pueblo of Namiquipa, Chi-
huahua, she elucidates the intertwining of ethnicity, gender, and class, as well as
the changes over time in authority and power in serrano culture. Part I of this
book covers the creation of the frontier civilization of the eighteenth to later
nineteenth centuries, while part 2 deals with state formation and capitalist devel-
opment from the late 185os until 192o, and serrano resistance to these.
Alonso describes the cultural gap that divides norteios from interior Mexicans;
norteios are seen as "brave, independent, self-sufficient, and hardworking. North-
ern society was and is more democratic, egalitarian, and open to individual
achievement" (pp. 15-16).
To explain these regional differences, Alonso traces the creation of the serrano
communities. The years of warfare with the Apache that lasted until 1888 were
instrumental in shaping the society and character of the serrano. Because of the
protracted war with the indigenes, the Spanish Crown and later the Mexican
government offered land grants and other privileges to settlers of all classes and
races who were willing to help "civilize the barbarians." These "peasant-warriors"
thus improved their status and earned military and personal honor. Although
the central government supplied the arms, ammunition, and privileges awarded
to the serranos, its control over these men, who developed fighting skills similar
to those of the Apache, was incomplete.
After 185o, and especially after the Indian wars ended, there was an attempt to
replace the patrimonial state with a modern nation-state, and the peasant corpo-
rate communities with capitalism. Communal lands were sold by the state, and
peasants were expected to become wage laborers or capitalist entrepreneurs; the
peasants resisted these attempts to transform their culture. Ironically, once the
frontier had been consolidated, the serranos were viewed by the state as the back-
ward, barbaric other: "land had become a commodity, [but] for the serranos, it
continued to be a sign of ethnic, class, and gender honor obtained through the
work and warfare that had domesticated the wilderness, a right sanctified by the
sacrifice of blood and sweat" (p. 190). The serranos saw revolution and the shed-
ding of blood as the means to avenge their honor and to recover their epic past.
The value of this carefully researched study is greatly enhanced by Alonso's in-
tegration of anthropological and historical perspectives. Although her insights
are complex, she articulates them clearly and convincingly.

October

258

JOANNE RAO SANCHEZ

St. Edward's University

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed July 23, 2014.