The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 360
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
gardless of their labels: teachers, ranchers, refugees, wetbacks, artists,
smugglers, or faith healers. Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Anglos,
Chicanos, Latinos, Texans-the ethnic and national distinctions mean
little to Hall; he prefers to call them fronterizos, people of an obviously
distinct culture, even if elements of that culture are contradictory,
opaque, and difficult to impossible to fathom and explain.
The author wanders in this fascinating and often times frightening
ambiance from Brownsville/Matamoros on the Gulf Coast to San Diego/
Tijuana on the Pacific observing, interviewing, photographing, and
thinking about the likes of Tony Clark, a wise, young priest who orga-
nizes sports for juveniles around Nogales-the same Father Clark le-
gally embroiled in but unrepentant about his participation in the Sanc-
tuary Movement-and Thomas Harrison, an absolutely dedicated but
thoroughly frustrated border patrol agent at Presidio who sees his job
as "control out of control." He peers in on the Taller Literario de Ciu-
dad Juarez to express border culture in creative works, and mingles
with ranchers like the Johnsons outside of Columbus, New Mexico,
who are just trying to make a living amidst some of the world's most
tumultuous social upheaval.
Hall is not as interested in the determinants of this enormous social
trauma as he is in the ordinary people engulfed by it. His book is no
social-science treatise, complete with computerized findings, footnotes,
and bibliography. Instead, it stitches together a series of "on the road"
vignettes that greatly humanize the border, even if they do not provide
a coordinated overview of the phenomenon, nor explain how it got to
be the way it is. Hall pays attention to wonderful detail; for instance, he
catches a folkloric-looking Mexican farm boy riding his burro with a
ghetto blaster hitched to his saddle. Hall is also an attentive listener,
especially to Father Tony's insights into the mental worlds of border
kids. At the same time, the author-as-photographer records poignant
portraits of the people he celebrates and their surroundings.
I myself am no stranger to the border. I have lived on, studied, and
traveled it for nearly three decades now, and I was moved and learned
a good deal from this fine book.
San Diego State University
PAUL J. VANDERWOOD
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/404/: accessed July 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.