Monday, February 15, 2021

Book News: Illusions of Empire

Right on cue with last Friday's post comes news of another Civil War-era U.S.-Mexico borderlands study, William Kiser's Illusions of Empire: The Civil War and Reconstruction in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (November 2021). Though a pair of recent titles from Andrew Masich and Miguel Ángel González-Quiroga are much thicker tomes and are similarly expansive in content range and analysis, Kiser's book claims status as "the first study to treat antebellum U.S. foreign policy, Civil War campaigning, the French Intervention in Mexico, Southwestern Indian Wars, South Texas Bandit Wars, and U.S. Reconstruction in a single volume, balancing U.S. and Mexican source materials to tell an important story of borderlands conflict with ramifications that are still felt in the region today."

According to the description, Illusions of Empire "adopts a multinational view of North American borderlands, examining the ways in which Mexico's North overlapped with the U.S. Southwest in the context of diplomacy, politics, economics, and military operations during the Civil War era." In it, the author "examines a fascinating series of events in which a disparate group of historical actors vied for power and control along the U.S.-Mexico border: from Union and Confederate generals and presidents, to Indigenous groups, diplomatic officials, bandits, and revolutionaries, to a Mexican president, a Mexican monarch, and a French king. Their unconventional approaches to foreign relations demonstrate the complex ways that individuals influence the course of global affairs and reveal that borderlands simultaneously enable and stifle the growth of empires." That last part perhaps hints at some of the "illusions" referenced in the book's title.

I hold Kiser's published New Mexico borderlands scholarship in high regard [see my reviews of Turmoil on the Rio Grande (2011) and Coast-to-Coast Empire (2018)], so I am looking forward to reading this newest work. I don't believe I've had any contact with publisher University of Pennsylvania Press before, though, so it may or may not be difficult to get a review copy from them.

1 comment:

  1. At 52 bucks for the Kindle I can see why your would want to hold out for a review copy!


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