The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 365
JESUS F. DE LA TEJA, Editor
Explorers, Traders, and Slavers: Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-z850. By Joseph
P. Sanchez. (University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 1997. Pp. xi+186. Pref-
ace, maps, epilogue, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-87480-526-0. $29.95,
Joseph Sanchez's new book, Explorers, Traders, and Slavers, attempts to under-
stand the development of the Old Spanish Trail in the American Southwest as a
developing narrative of exploration. According to his introduction, Sanchez's
book is an attempt "to identify salient themes and historical personages in the
history of the Old Spanish Trail and its many variants." Sanchez's book meets
this goal by detailing the gradual exploration of what was to become the Old
Spanish Trail in ten chapters that follow various expeditions seeking to expand
the knowledge of New Spain about the American Southwest and its peoples. In-
deed, Sanchez has taken what is a difficult and confusing history of exploration
and developed a readable and enjoyable narrative that historically contextualizes
how the Old Spanish Trail developed.
The Old Spanish Trail is introduced through a series of historical maps detail-
ing how various individuals envisioned the trail in historical context. The inclu-
sion of these historical documents at the outset of the book suggests that what
will follow is an analytical study of how the Old Spanish Trail was imagined, ex-
plored, and mapped. While these historical cartographic representations of the
trail and its development are intriguing, a modern representation of the trail,
the focus of the study, is missing. A modern representation would assist the read-
er in understanding Sanchez's narrative recounting of how the trail was under-
stood, envisioned, and mapped. The book is completed with two other strong
primary documents, English translations of Juan Maria Antonio Rivera's diaries
recounting his explorations of the Old Spanish Trail. The inclusion of such
good historical sources and a matching historical narrative begs the question of
who is the intended audience for this book.
Although a readable and enjoyable narrative of historical exploration,
Sanchez's study of the Old Spanish Trail is more descriptive than analytical. His
book does not delve into the economic, social, or political significance of the
trail to either New Spain or the Amerindians of the Southwest. Rather, Amerin-
dians and the original intention of the trail, economic trade, become colorful
backdrops to the historical narratives of exploration that Sanchez details. What
Sanchez has provided is a traditional, detailed chronological breakdown of how
the trail was developed through successive explorations and a good historical
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/395/ocr/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.