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Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border (America in the World)

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  53 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
"Line in the Sand" details the dramatic transformation of the western U.S.-Mexico border from its creation at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 to the emergence of the modern boundary line in the first decades of the twentieth century. In this sweeping narrative, Rachel St. John explores how this boundary changed from a mere line on a map to a clearly marked and ...more
Paperback, 284 pages
Published November 25th 2012 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Robert
Feb 08, 2012 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition


A Harvard professor, Rachel St. John, has just published a useful and comprehensive short history of the western U.S.-Mexico border (meaning from El Paso to San Diego.)

It is a tale that approaches geography as a multiform kind of space: social space, indigenous space, national identity space, commercial space, smuggling space, and so forth.

Early on, as history records, the United States found ways to take what we call the northern portion of the U.S.-Mexico border from Mexico by purchase, diplom
...more
John
Jan 18, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the first half of this and skimmed the second, because the first half was more interesting to me. It relates to my field, the northeastern Canada/US border. What were these boundaries like when they were just imaginary, unpoliced lines running through desert or forest or mountains? It is always fascinating to me to read about borders and the persistent idea that it is easy to draw "natural" borders between two countries. There has always been this notion among mapmakers and peace treaty n ...more
JQAdams
This is an unremarkable history of the U.S.-Mexico border (and borderlands) west of the Rio Grande from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. St. John, a Harvard historian when wrote the book, goes long on academic jargon; you'll read a lot here about things like the border being a "complicated system of relational space" involving "negotiated sovereignty," which are unduly opaque articulations of the banal point that the governments involved can't always get what they want. And that is pretty much ...more
Marks54
This is a history of the part of the US - Mexican border west of the Rio Grande river from its initial specification and ratification by treaty after the Mexican war and the Gadsen Purchase up until the 1930s. The book presents an evolving view of the border world from the wild west to the Guilded Age to Prohibition to the Depression. Theer are interesting points and the book is well written (it is clearly a dissertation that has been worked up into a book). Not a lot that is surprising but lots ...more
Nancy
Feb 09, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly readable overview of the history and development of the U.S.-Mexican border, starting with the Boundary Commission shortly after the conclusion of the Mexican-American war, covering the Gadsden Purchase, forward to the 20th century, and present calls for a wall along the entire length of the border. The author gives the history, with nuanced insight and without an agenda. The text shows that the border, and how to control it, has been subject to debate many times. Feelings of anti-immig ...more
Jason S
Feb 01, 2016 Jason S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: border
A very well written book describing the history of the US Mexico border from the Mexican American war until the Great Depression. Interesting chapters on vice zones during prohibition and on the development of immigration regulations.
Linda Heffernan
Lots of stuff I didn't know before.
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