The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Book Reviews

appointments. Viva Kennedy Club leaders "had neither strong personal relation-
ships with important politicians nor the influence to pressure them in any signif-
icant way. . . . They were neither technocrats nor economic, political, or social
elites. . . . Thus, they were not prepared to be undermined by under-the-table
negotiations or private lobbying by groups higher up on the political totem
pole" (pp. 120-122). Or, as Albert Pefia Jr. succintly stated, "They always sell us
down the river (p. 49).
This remarkable tome represents a lesson in Mexican American political history
that needs not to be repeated, if indeed, the dream of Camelot will ultimatley be
achieved by future generations of Hispanic leaders. For the general public, this
is a very good read, and an excellent supplemental text for students of Texas his-
tory, Texas government, Chicano or Latino Studies.
San Antonio J. Gilberto Quezada
Mexican Brick Culture in the Buildzng of Texas, I8oos-I9oos. By Scott Cook.
(College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998. Pp. xxv+327.
Illustrations, maps, tables, abbreviations, preface, acknowledgments, appen-
dix, notes, references, index. ISBN o-890o96-792-X. $44.95, cloth.)
Over the past few years border studies have become an increasingly popular
area of research. Indeed, transnationalism, immigration, and labor are "hot top-
ics" that have generated intense interest. Scott Cook's work on Mexican brick
culture significantly adds to this burgeoning literature.
Whereas other authors study the border by focusing on only one side of the
divide, Cook examines the bi-national brick industry and its contributions to the
cross-border economy. In this era of global capitalism and multinational corpo-
rations, Cook demonstrates that the border brick industry thrives on small-scale
production. He does this through the use of case studies of family-owned
ladrilleras or brick yards.
We learn how the skill of brick-making was and is passed down through the
generations. In addition to the technical aspects of brick-making, we are also
introduced to the concept of brick culture. For Cook, this includes both the
business side of the industry and the families and communities whose lives are
dependent upon it.
It is here where Mexican Brick Culture makes a unique contribution to border
studies through the notion of subnationality. Cook argues that rather than being
bi-national, families who are involved in Mexican brick culture subordinate their
national loyalties and identities to accommodate "the daily realities of living and
working on one side or other of the border as needs and opportunities indicat-
ed" (p. 53). Individuals involved in brick culture, therefore, do not think of
themselves as Mexican or American, but rather subordinate those identities in
order to meet their economic needs. As ethnicity, nationality, and race have
dominated debates in academia, Cook's idea of subnationality needs to be
thrown into the mix.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed August 27, 2014.