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

Book Reviews

409

While searching for evidence of participation in the Mexican Revolution of an
intellectual community of women along the Texas-Mexico border, Clara Lomas
located several autobiographical narratives written by Leonor Villegas de Mag-
n6n. Magn6n was the founder of La Cruz Blanca, the nurses corps which served
Venustiano Carranza's Constitutionalist forces during the Revolution.
Although Lomas does not specify when or where they were located, the docu-
ments, then in bad physical condition, apparently had been passed over by the
Laredo Times in 1961 when the newspaper printed some of Magn6n's memoirs
relating to the nurses corps (p. viii).
Magn6n's autobiographical narrative had failed to attract favorable attention
from book publishers for about forty years. Lomas charges that gender bias was
the reason why over two dozen American and Mexican houses rejected the work.
A specialist in romance languages, Lomas explains in her introductory essay that
the genre of autobiography/memoir "imprisoned ... [Magn6n's] story within a
narrative form which has historically privileged male authority, authorship and
discourse and ignored or devalued those same female qualities" (p. xxxi).
Lomas's instructive literary analysis thus practically invites the reader to con-
sider not only the substance of the work but also the decisions of two genera-
tions of publishers who rejected it in both English and Spanish versions.
Magnon's original Spanish-text account was dismissed as "novelized memoir" by
an unfriendly publisher (p. ix), but essentially that characterization is correct. In
the work, which is written in the third person, conversations are surmised, mo-
tives are inferred, and scenes are imagined. Magn6n also had premonitions and
placed great stock in destiny. Lomas acknowledges that the style of "revolution-
ary romanticism" is at times too "high-flown" for modern taste (p. xvii). Yet Mag-
n6n witnessed important political and military events, performed the hard work
of managing a group of nurses, and wrote newspaper articles to publicize La
Cruz Blanca and the Constitutionalist cause. Although the historical value of the
narrative is limited, Magn6n's writing provides the reader a sense of the atmos-
phere on both sides of the Rio Grande during the Revolution.
Belton WILLIAM F. HARLOW
New Westers: The West in Contemporary American Culture. By Michael L. Johnson.
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996. Pp. xxii+4o8. Preface, acknowl-
edgments, introduction, illustrations, notes, suggested readings, index. IS-
BN 0-7006-0763-3. $29.95, cloth.)
New Westers is a thought-provoking survey of contemporary views of the
American West, especially as an historical legacy. Although the title refers to all
people who have recently discovered or re-discovered a personal interest in the
West, or re-located there from somewhere else, the author's most successful at-
tempts to articulate distinctions between "Old Westers" and "New Westers" are
made in his analyses of historical writing, novels, music, movies, and television.
Also analyzed are other manifestations including population shifts, wilderness
recreation, and fashions such as "cowboy chic."

1997

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 December 28, 2014.