The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 476
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of Spanish goals and activities. Kessell's uniquely earthy and colloquial style, as
well as his intuitive familiarity with the prose of primary source documents,
enhances these portrayals. He easily recreates dialogues between historical
actors and provides unvarnished descriptions of their physical bodies, their per-
sonalities, sometimes even their thoughts. People come to life when Kessell fur-
nishes us with rich trivia about their daily lives and changing fortunes, as well as
when he uses adjectives like "peevish, zestful, rapacious, clever, headstrong,
penny-pinching, portly, testy, and vacuous." The multiplicity of these elaborate
anecdotal reconstructions may daunt the casual reader who could lose sight of
the forest for the trees, a problem compounded by the sparse (though insight-
ful) analytical comments that pass by so quickly it is easy to miss them.
The book is organized chronologically, taking us from the first explorations
in the sixteenth century through Mexican independence from Spain. Kessell
highlights what he calls three "swells": a period of "medieval questing" from
1540 to 1610o; an emphasis on imperial defense in the 168os and 169os; and
the period from the 1770os to the 179os, when Spain attempted to reassert its
quixotic territorial claims. He also organizes the narrative around three
routes from central Mexico to the north: a central corridor through Nueva
Vizcaya to New Mexico; an eastern route through Coahuila and Nuevo Le6n
to Texas; and the split trajectories to the west that reached Arizona and
California. Here we see two other tendencies in this work:  to connect
both sides of the present-day border (although Kessell might have done more
here with recent scholarship on the Mexican side); and  to emphasize the
lack of unity among the Southwestern borderlands, despite the imposition of
the Provincias Internas. In all cases, the organization of the book stems from
Spanish initiatives; indigenous actions and responses are not as prominent.
This is notable in the case of missions where Kessell might have drawn more
heavily from the considerable body of published work on their demographic
and socioeconomic history.
Spain in the Southwest (also available in paperback) contains instructive illustra-
tions and maps as well as a glossary. Kessell's very readable narrative makes the
book suitable for classroom use. It should be recommended reading, along with
the works by Spicer, Weber, and Brooks cited above, for those interested in gain-
ing a nuanced understanding of the complexities of the Southwest in the
Northern Arizona University SUSAN M. DEEDS
Charreada: Mexzcan Rodeo in Texas. Photographs by Al Rendon. Essays by Julia
Hambric, Bryan Woolley, and Francis E. Abernethy. Publication of the
Texas Folklore Society no. 49. (Denton: University of North Texas Press,
2oo2. Pp. xvi+99. Preface, acknowledgments, photographs, index. ISBN 1-
57441-155-1. $23.95, cloth.)
Charreada offers new insight into charreria-the proud arts and traditions of
Mexican charros and charras, whose equestrian skills and exciting pageantry are
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/534/ocr/: accessed February 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.