Knight without Armor: Carlos Eduardo Castaneda, 1896-1958

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Knight Without Armor: Carlos Eduardo Castaneda, 1896-1958. By Felix D. Almaraz Jr. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, c. 1999. Pp. xxii, 430. $39.95, ISBN 0-89096-890-X.)

Felix Almaraz's erudite biography of Carlos Eduardo Castaneda, three decades in the making, is a worthy monument to this eminent scholar. Almaraz's descriptive narrative follows Castaneda from cradle to grave, documenting the great adversities that this exemplary man, a rare combination of humanist and public servant, faced in his rise to academic celebrity. The book is well researched--save for its disregard of the Cleofas Calleros Papers at the El Paso Public Library and at the library of the University of Texas at El Paso--and it masterfully reveals Castaneda's complex career as an educator, scholar, and activist. Almaraz documents the hardships that Castaneda faced with his family when he was a junior scholar. In this regard, Almaraz presents a "how-to" book that all Hispanic graduate students and faculty should read for inspiration as they navigate the travails of academia. Castaneda's career, particularly that inordinate curiosity that made him the most prolific Mexican American historian of the twentieth century, presents an example worth emulating. Latin American, U.S. West, and borderlands specialists will delight in reading about Castaneda's relationship with giants like Charles W. Hackett, Herbert E. Bolton, and Eugene C. Barker.

Not to be overlooked are Almaraz's play-by-play passages detailing how Castaneda, in his role as cultural entrepreneur, secured the purchase of many of the bibliographic treasures at the University of Texas at Austin. …