The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 632
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
ines the area's lasting Hispanic presence across three centuries, tracing
the early explorations and describing the settlements and their devel-
opment into the American era. His anthropological background assists
him in discerning the importance of family ties in government, mili-
tary, and church bureaucracies and in the social fabric. By focusing on
the actors and their roles rather than on institutions and government
policy, Officer convincingly demonstrates the fundamentally Hispanic
structure of Arizona's history.
Nestled in the northwest corner of Spain's North American empire,
Pimeria Alta (the Land of the Upper Pimas) provided few attractions
for settlers before the eighteenth century. Its terrain was semi-arid, and
the silver strikes were imaginary or transitory. In the mid-17oos, how-
ever, the population pressures and the need for new grazing lands in
northern New Spain pushed settlers into Sonora (as the Spanish prov-
ince and later Mexican state was called). While settlements on this fron-
tier were predominantly military (presidios) and religious (missions) in
character, some civilians did trickle into the area in an unorganized
manner and, together with the former soldiers and missionized In-
dians, left a lasting imprint.
Officer acknowledges Arizona's early links to New Mexico (163os to
174os), but concentrates quite accurately on events and developments
in Sonora and the Mexican heartland. In so doing, the author prac-
tically discards the traditional Borderlands framework, which artifi-
cially clumped together the various provinces that would later form the
American Southwest. His careful study of the settlers' fortunes in Ari-
zona and their social, political, and economic ties to Sonora confirms
the value of historiographical trends that examine these frontier areas
on their own merits and in relation to their Spanish and Mexican real-
ities rather than to their post-1848 circumstances. While some compari-
son to frontiers in California, Texas, and New Mexico in a concluding
chapter may have added some perspective, the north-south regional
context provides an outlook that will benefit other Borderlands studies.
The book is not without its shortcomings, however. The first chapter
on "Myths and Realities in the Upper Pimeria" provides a simplified,
elementary overview that detracts from this otherwise scholarly work.
The detailed examination of numerous life stories, visitas (inspections),
and attacks by and campaigns against Apaches may be overdone; a
treatment that mixed patterns of settlement, expansion, and demo-
graphic developments with case studies would have been more effec-
tive. Likewise, the failure to explore the socioeconomic base for the
power struggles in the Mexican era make the over 150 pages on politi-
cal revolts and counterrevolts somewhat arduous reading.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/698/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.