The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Book Reviews

stated that it in no way suggests that the work is seriously flawed. Quite the con-
trary, this reviewer finds this concise volume to be an important and worthy
contribution to the growing literature on the Mexican War, and earnestly rec-
ommends that it find its place on the shelf of anyone who has an interest in that
conflict.
Southwest Texas State University JAMES W. POHL
A Wild and Vivid Land: An Illustrated History of the South Texas Border. By Jerry
Thompson. (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1997. Pp. viii+2o6.
Illustrations, foreword, notes, index. ISBN 0-87611-164-9. $29.95, cloth; o-
87611-167-3, $95.00, limited ed., slipcased).
Given the region, the twenty-eight sections in this study cannot be called a
smorgasbord but rather delicious, sometimes spicy, botanitas (tidbits) which will
entice readers to a full meal of each. Thompson defines South Texas as the area
south of the Guadalupe River to the Rio Grande, and east of the Gulf of Mexico
to the Balcones Escarpment. The sections are uneven in length and arranged in
a rough chronological fashion. Interspersed are 155 excellent images (repro-
duced in black and white only) and seven maps which correspond approximate-
ly to the section themes. Geography and Native Americans are given one section
each, Tejano/Mejicano activists, four (Juan Cortina, Catarino Garza, Gregorio
Cortez, and the Idars), economic activities, five (steamboats, railroads, sheep
and cattle, citrus, oil and gas, and Falcon Dam), exploration and founding of
settlements, seven (Spanish exploration; Escandon; Camargo, Reynosa, Revilla
and Mier; Dolores; Laredo; San Patricio, Corpus Christi, and Dolores; Browns-
ville), and politics, revolutions and wars, nine (Mexican and Texas indepen-
dence and revolutions, Republic of the Rio Grande, Second Texas-Mexico War,
Mier Expedition, Mexican War, Civil War, guerrilla warfare in the Nueces strip,
Reconstruction, and the Mexican Revolution).
Although four of the sections have no footnotes, readers will feel comfortable
knowing that Thompson is handling subject matter he has researched and writ-
ten about for decades. The value of this work is its bringing together of myriad
sources, topics, and illustrations that put flesh on the bones of South Texas his-
tory. Thompson's extensive work on the Spanish colonial period, Juan Cortina,
and the Civil War make those sections outstanding. The Reconstruction period
is brief, does not deal with governmental policies but narrates the economic ac-
tivity of the times as it was affected by events in Mexico (incidentally, Maximilian
was executed in 1867, not 1857 [p. 117]). It is doubtful that the "power of the
church which intervened with the threat of excommunication" (p. 40) was re-
sponsible for Hidalgo's lack of success in the Mexican independence movement.
Of greater importance was the loss of support from the criollos, who were re-
pelled by the racial aspects of the movement.
Space limitations did not allow the author to provide a more cohesive narration
and forced him to provide a minimum of interpretation. For example, he chroni-
cles ethnic rivalries without offering an explanation of their causes (pp. 70, 93,

1998

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed April 16, 2014.