The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999 Page: 532
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
inquests, indictments, plea bargains and more standard sources such as court
records and newspapers, McKanna argues that the previously overlooked inci-
dence of homicide reveals "racial bias in criminal justice systems," refracting "the
complex interrelationships of gender, race, homicide, and justice" (pp. 11-12).
He asserts that both "traditional" and new western historians have failed to pro-
vide a useful framework for defining violence in the American West, concluding
that "the American West was indeed more violent than the East" (p. 14).
For each region, McKanna illustrates how the "rapid convergence of diverse
cultures, industrialization, and differing social systems" (pp. 4-5) account for
the violence taking place. However, McKanna's over-reliance on statistical data
results in a disappointingly thin description of the lived experience of those like-
ly to be involved in violent conflict, ultimately relying on problematic stereo-
types. Moreover, the categories of race and gender operate as synonyms for
minorities and women without fully examining how the violence that character-
ized the West helped to define a social order marked by inequality and power.
In Douglas County, blacks migrating from the south brought "a 'code of
honor,"' which explains their propensity for violence, "sometimes with the
slightest provocation." (p. 68) Claiming this reveals a subculture of violence,
McKanna does not fully explore the connection with an unjust racial system as a
possible source of conflict. In contrast, Las Animas County and Gila County yield
a different explanation that posits a regional culture of violence. McKanna
emphasizes the peculiarities of "the ethnic-minority experience" (p. 78) without
placing the data in a complicated cultural or social context, such as explaining
the violence associated with Italian immigrants as simply resulting from the
vendetta system. Gila County violence resulted from social instability, high usage
of alcohol, industrialization, and, most importantly, labor conflicts common in
communities with extractive industries such as mining. Yet, Gila County's high
rates of violence are also explained as a result of interracial and intraracial con-
flict, with large numbers of Apaches murdering one another as well as those out-
side their own racial group.
Although McKanna includes violence perpetrated by groups (such as lynch-
ings and pitched labor battles) as well as the more common forms between
individuals, he is unable to differentiate between the varieties of structural vio-
lence and the number of ways violence is experienced by subalterns in the
West. McKanna's painstaking research is a welcome contribution, however by
limiting his analysis of violence to either a regional or subcultural framework
he must settle for static portrayals that do not fully account for why certain
groups were over-represented as victims of an individual act of violence or the
Austin MANUEL CALLAHAN
Two-Party Politics in the One-Party South: Alabama's Hill Country, I874-192o. By
Samuel L. Webb. (Tuscaloosa, London: University of Alabama Press, 1997.
Pp. xiv+286. Acknowledgments, introduction, illustrations, conclusion,
notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8173-o895-4. $34.95, cloth.)
Samuel L. Webb's Two-Party Politics in the One-Party South: Alabama's Hill
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999, periodical, 1999; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/m1/603/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.