The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

The Magic Curtain covers an expansive terrain. But herein lies one limitation:
the U.S.-Mexico border is rendered one single location with little differentiation
across its distinctive historical and social terrains. We read of Spanish Golden
Age literature, border folksongs, and Hollywood film as if all three emerge from
the same social events and reflect the same cultural environments. Culturally, we
are exposed to a series of narrative expressive genres. One such genre is the cor-
rido, or Mexican folk ballad. While the discussion of the corrido is informative it
is also misleading, especially when it comes to understanding the rich historical
and social dimensions of this expressive form. A very telling example is the au-
thor's discussion of the Cormdo de los bandidos de Las Norias, where he claims: "Al-
though characteristic corrido vagueness and gaps in the action exist, along with
names, both of place and men long since forgotten, the ballad is reasonably in-
tact" (p. 52). But this corrido is a version of the corrido Los Sediciosos, which dis-
cusses the border skirmishes of 1915 connected to the well-documented "Plan
de San Diego." Not only are the events discussed in these two corridos the same
but it is also clear that "Aneste Pasafio" from the Norias corrido is the historical
character of Aniceto Pizafia found in Los Sedzczosos. While it may be that some
corridos are historically vague, to argue this point for this text, fails to recognize
the work historians have already done.
What remains problematic in The Magic Curtazn is the elision of history
through a nostalgic narrative. As a trope, nostalgia fails to explore the causes
that have shaped the past as well as changed it into the present. Such a posture,
unwittingly, leaves the past both unexamined and celebrated as a magical mo-
ment.
Unzversity of Texas at Austin Richard Flores
The Takzng of Texas: A Documentary History. By Franklin Madis. (Austin: Eakin
Press, 2002. Pp. vii+318. Preface, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 1-57168-
683-5. $24.95, paper.)
From the title of this book, one would suspect that manuscript collector
Franklin Madis set out to give us an agenda-driven study about how Texas was ac-
quired by the grasping, unprincipled United States. This suspicion is strength-
ened by a remark in the author's preface, where he says that the United States
"pursued an opportunity" to take Texas, "which is the thesis of this work" (p. vi).
However, few of the documents presented by Madis even touch on such a "the-
sis" and none of them indicate that there was any kind of a U.S. conspiracy lurk-
ing behind Mexico's failure to keep Texas.
The documents assembled by Madis actually offer a representative sample of
the many problems that contributed to Mexico's loss of Texas. What makes this
book important is that most of his sources are new ones, previously unknown to
historians. Among the Tejano and Mexican voices quoted by Madis are those of
familiar high-profile characters, but he also gives us a multitude of new voices-
those of common people, minor officials, soldiers, ranchers, businessmen, and

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed August 4, 2015.