Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas

Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas

Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas

Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas

Synopsis

"Thompson's book provides not only a powerfully written history of a Mexican American who symbolizes 'resistance to oppression and intolerance,' but also a clear, cogent explanation of the relationship between the United States and Mexico as they face each other across the Texas border."--Journal of American History

"Jerry Thompson has produced the definitive work on one of the most controversial and influential Mexicano/Tejano figures of Texas and Southwestern history.... With stunning clarity and balance, Thompson has provided a much-needed narrative interpretation that brings to life one of the more colorful figures of Texas, Border, and Chicano histories."--Hispanic Outlook

"Jerry Thompson has performed a difficult feat: comprehensively examining a life that had almost as many turns as a circle."--Journal of Southern History

"This is the most well-researched and thorough account of Juan Nepomuceno Cortina's life that we have.... This book certainly shows that Cortina 'established his niche in the grand sweep of time,' but it will be left to other scholars to follow the many trails hinted at by Thompson."--Western Historical Quarterly

"Jerry Thompson's sympathetic but balanced biography is a 'must read' for all students of Texas history and Anglo-Hispanic relations."--East Texas Historical Journal

Excerpt

Then came the climax of all border troubles in the person of Juan
Nepomuceno Cortina … the most striking, the most powerful,
the most insolent, and the most daring as well as the most elusive
Mexican bandit… that ever wet his horse in the muddy waters of
the Rio Bravo
.

J. frank dobie

More than a century after his death in 1894, the legacy of Juan Nepomuceno Cortina remains one of considerable confusion and debate. Through the years, scholars have attempted to place his life into historical context and thereby to understand what motivated him to lead a rebellion. Whether taken as hero or villain, Cortina seems one of those historical figures whose biography elicits little compromise. in such cases, distortion and misunderstanding seem the inevitable result. a survey of how Cortina has been studied reflects his elusiveness and suggests, more generally, some of the issues underlying all historical narrative.

A useful starting point in studying Cortina is J. Frank Dobie’s A Vaquero of the Brush Country (1929). Dobie, a renowned Texas folklorist and son of the South Texas Brush Country, refers to Cortina as “the most striking, the most powerful, the most insolent, and the most daring as well as the most elusive Mexican bandit, not even excepting Pancho Villa, that ever wet his horse in the muddy waters of the Río Bravo.” “Striking,” though, is far from righteous. Basing his knowledge of Cortina on a long list of civil and military depositions taken in Texas, Dobie maintained that Cortina was responsible for a “reign of terror” on the border. To Dobie, Cortina was a “great bandido” who “plundered and murdered.” in his final analysis, Dobie’s real heroes were not “great bandidos” but the high-stepping, straight-shooting Texas Rangers.

One of Dobie’s distinguished colleagues at the University of Texas, Wal-

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