Monday, February 20, 2017

Booknotes: Tejano Tiger

New Arrival:
Tejano Tiger: Jose de los Santos Benavides and the Texas-Mexico Borderlands, 1823-1891 by Jerry D. Thompson (TCU Press, 2017).

The Texas Biography Series from TCU is a slowly expanding one, but it does already include two other Civil War-related figures in Texas Unionist general and later governor Edmund J. Davis and celebrated Confederate cavalryman John S. "Rip" Ford (both are fine treatments). Jerry Thompson's study of the life of Santos Benavides is the fifth book in the series and apparently the first biography of the politician, businessman, and soldier to appear in the scholarly literature.

Roughly 40% of the book is devoted to the secession crisis and Civil War years, so readers primarily concerned with those periods will have a great deal of material to peruse. "It was under the Confederacy in the disputed Texas-Mexico borderlands that Santos Benavides reached the pinnacle of his military career as the highest-ranking Tejano in the entire Confederate army.."

After the war, Benavides served in the Texas legislature and had deep personal connections on both sides of the border. According to Thompson, he also "was without doubt the single most important individual in the long and often violent history of Laredo."

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