The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Book Reviews

World War I on small towns in America, or the experience of women on the
western frontier-one may end up with a collection of episodic details, rather
than a coherent whole. This is especially evident in the final section, made up of
several unrelated stories-from the many quilts Weaver had made since she
was a girl, to a letter from her son in 1934 about an episode in which he was
shot, to her nightly prayers in which she always hoped for "an unbroken family
circle in Heaven" (p. 106). It seems her editors did not want to exclude these
stories, even though they did not fit well anywhere else. The arrangement is
episodic, however, and the narrative does not flow as smoothly as it might.
Nonetheless, Unbroken Circle is a worthwhile volume for those interested in
Texas and women's history, or the value of oral testimony in capturing a fam-
ily's past.
Center for American History, BARBARA S. GRIFFITH
University of Texas at Austin
Soldaderas zn the Mexican Milztary: Myth and Hzstory. By Elizabeth Salas. (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1990. Pp. xiii+ 163. Preface, introduction, illus-
trations, conclusion, notes, bibliography, index. $25.00, cloth; $11.95,
paper.)
The soldadera-the woman soldier or camp-follower-is a familiar, often
mythologized, but certainly important figure in Mexican history. She deserves
a good scholarly study. Unfortunately, this is not it. First, the author tries to
compress over half a millennium of history into 1 19 pages of text. The first two
chapters, dealing with preconquest and colonial Mexico, are skimpy, neglectful
of important sources, and overly reliant on some dubious ones. The chapters
dealing with the revolutionary period (19lo-192o) are better, especially chap-
ter 4, which, by adopting a narrower focus-the men and women of the de-
feated Federal forces who were interned in the U.S. early in 1914-and by
using original sources, offers a more original analysis, which will be of interest
to historians of both Mexico and the Southwest. Chapters 5, 6, and 7, which,
respectively, discuss soldadera life histories, the soldadera in literature, song,
art, and film, and the image of the soldadera in the Chicano movement, contain
some interesting material, but they read like shopping lists (p. 117 alone con-
tains ten sequential references), so that they are of bibliographical rather than
analytical interest.
Given the sheer scope some errors are inevitable, but the book is littered with
them. Dates are wrong, people and places are misspelled (two on p. 42 alone),
and judgments are cockeyed. The encomienda was not a land grant (p. 13).
Mexico did not experience "constant warfare" between 1519 and the 186os; the
colonial period was fairly peaceful (p. 25). Texas was not a "colony" of Mexico
prior to 1836 (p. 29). "Zapata's revolutionaries" did not fight in Aguascalientes
(p. 41). Carranza was not "one of the most successful generals of the Revolu-
tion" (p. 47). Errors occur partly because the author shows scant critical judg-
ment: both novels and U.S. sources are used extensively and uncritically (rely-
ing on the Mexican Herald for stories about Zapatismo is inadvisable, unless you
are looking for mass abductions [p. 40]); the author seems to credit a con-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed September 18, 2014.