Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book News: The Civil War on the Rio Grande, 1846–1876

Military and civil strife in the Rio Grande River Valley during 1861-65 have been explored in a number of useful books from historians Jerry Thompson, Stephen Townsend, Stephen Dupree, Michael Collins, James Irby, and others. The most recent works have placed more emphasis on the transnational and cross-cultural aspects of the border region's involvement in the Civil War, with analysis often extending both long before and well after the war years. The newest entry in the historiography, The Civil War on the Rio Grande, 1846–1876 (TAMU Press, Jan 2019), agrees with its predecessors that "(t)o understand the American Civil War in Texas also requires an understanding of the history of Mexico."

Edited by Christopher L. Miller, Roseann Bacha-Garza, and Russell K. Skowronek, the book "focuses on the region’s forced annexation from Mexico in 1848 through the Civil War and Reconstruction. In a very real sense, the Lower Rio Grande Valley was a microcosm not only of the United States but also of increasing globalization as revealed by the intersections of races, cultures, economic forces, historical dynamics, and individual destinies."

Miller, Bacha-Garza, and Skowronek are also the authors of Blue and Gray on the Border: The Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail, which should be released any day now by the same publisher. It's advertised as "a densely illustrated travel guide featuring important historical and military sites of the Civil War period." A close companion to that guidebook, The Civil War on the Rio Grande "provides the scholarly backbone to a larger public history project exploring three decades of ethnic conflict, shifting international alliances, and competing economic proxies at the border." I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing both titles.

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