Just starting. A favorite author -- but not one I would associate with YA.
For booklikes book club at http://booklikes.com/book-clubs/12/ya-book-club
Today was the day when my school's administration made the final decision as to what classes would be cut for the fall semester. Given our declining enrollments, it's come to be an anxious time when schedules set months in advance are upset with bare days for people to adjust before classes start.
This time, though, I got the best news I could hope for, as among the classes cancelled was the History of the Southwest course I was scheduled to teach.
Back in June I was informed that one of my colleagues was giving up the class and that they needed me to teach it. This meant that I had to read up on the subject to prepare for the course. I made some progress, but I had a fall ahead of me in which most of my available reading time would be spent reading books on the American Southwest and synthesizing them into lectures.
Only with the class's cancellation I no longer have to worry about it! Now I can focus instead on reading with which I'm more intellectually engaged at the moment, namely the history of 19th and 20th century Europe, and take my time with the books I had planned to read to prepare my new course. What a relief!
Before the American Southwest was the American Southwest it was the northern frontier of Mexico, representing a third of the territory of the country after its leaders declared their independence from Span in 1821. What the region was like in the quarter century between its possession by Spain and its conquest by the United States is the subject of David J. Weber's book. It's a comprehensive work that begins by examining how the news of Augustin de Iturbide's declaration of independence was received in the region and concludes with the outbreak of the war that would lead to the U.S.'s annexation of the territory.
While Weber's text surveys the span of human activity in the territory, two themes emerge over the course of his text. The first is the sense of isolation for the Hispanic residents of the region. Independence was a fait accompli for them, one in which they had no say. In many ways little changed with the news, as the region went from being the sparsely settled northern region of Spain's empire in the Americans to the sparsely settled northern lands of the United States of Mexico. Many of the key issues and developments that defined the area during the last decades of Spanish control continued, with the Mexicans dealing with economic change and relations the Indians just as they had before. While independence meant shifts in the dynamics involved, these were concerns that engaged locals no matter who was in charge,
What changed most with Mexican independence was its relations with the United States. This emerges as the second theme of the book: the growing drift of the region into the U.S. orbit. Independence from Spain meant an end to the mercantilist policies restricting trade with the United States, just as the presence of Americans on the frontier was growing. American merchants and trappers eagerly entered the region in search of economic opportunities, establishing a visible presence for the U.S. while economically orienting the region to the northeast. Close behind them were American settlers, whose presence in Texas in particular disrupted the dynamics of the region. Mexican authorities were conflicted about this presence, welcoming the economic benefits brought by trade and the stabilizing effects of non-Indian settlement while increasingly wary of what would follow from the growing American interest in the region. Their concerns would be validated with the outbreak of war in 1846, as the American presence served as the wedge for annexation two years later.
Weber makes plain the factors that led to the region's takeover by the United States, yet this is only one of his book's many strengths. For while Weber details the growing interest in the region by many Americans it also tells the story of the residents themselves and the lives they led. His chapters highlight the many challenges they faced, from their limited resources to the indifference with which they were often treated by Mexican institutions and the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. Such coverage illustrates the challenges of life on the frontier in the early 19th century while underscoring how annexation came about. In all it makes Weber's book essential reading for anyone interested in the region, as he fills in the valuable details of what proved a critical period of transition in its history.
One of the things I love about my job is the breadth of subjects that I'm called upon to teach. Though my area of specialty is modern British history, over the years I've taught everything from early Asian civilizations to post-1945 U.S. history. Recently, I thought that they were running out of new courses for me to undertake.
Then I received an email yesterday proving me wrong. One of my co-workers gave up a course he taught on the history of the American Southwest, which is one of the last classes in the catalog that I haven't taught. Though I work with someone who is probably better qualified to teach it, he passed on the opportunity, which means that I have a new course to put together over the next few months.
As disruptive as this is of my plans, I really do enjoy the challenge of prepping new courses, not the least of which is the reading that I get to undertake for it. Not only does this bump a couple of books that have long been on my shelves to the top of the TBR stack, but I will be adding a few more to it in the months to come.Of course this will come at the price of some of my other reading goals, but if there's one thing I've learned about life it's all about the trade-offs.
Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on January 17, 2018.
A Viking adventure with all the gore and blood that you could ask for. If only I could have been made to care for the characters…
Soldiers learning to maneuver robots in the war have to do as part of a hive mind. Pretty soon, real life cannot compare with the virtual one that they lead with the other members of the hive.
A retelling of the myth of Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman Consul. In the story, he is tortured by Carthaginians before his death. Everything in the story is actually setting up the reader for the way he dies.
An abused child grows up into a sociopath. You can guess what happens next!
It isn’t that bioengineered soldiers haven’t been done before. Here though the author makes it all about religion.
A black man joins the army in the eradication of Native Americans. The story remains localized and makes no claims about the big picture.
A coma patient becomes an avenging spirit with a special soft place in her heart for kids.
I have been wondering if I would like Gabaldon’s writing and I wonder no more. This story is based on a skirmish between the French and English soldiers on Canadian soil.
Nature and “people” come together in this story to save the land. I liked this one because plants featured in it.
POVs change as we see Carthage fall and a Roman general plays mind games with the Carthaginians he will be selling off to slavery.
Canine gladiators and sibling love made this story one of my faves!
An alien race tries to take over the planet and humans band together to stop that from happening. They also have help from the unlikeliest of sources.
Women have faced discrimination whenever they have dared to step into a profession. Flying planes during a war isn’t any different.
A mercenary is hired to rescue a princess who didn’t really need to be rescued. The princess was a pleasant surprise.
A utopian dream to unite the world while a war goes on outside. Didn’t take too long for it to unravel.
AIs rule the world. Humans don’t stand a chance against them yet they won’t give up fighting back or remembering how life used to be.
Sometimes, the enemy on the other side of the border is your friend. In this story, soldiers who trained together are forced to fight against each other when France daren’t go against Germany.
Soldiers have been manning an entry point into their empire for years now. No reinforcements have arrived for some time. The absence of enemies starts to make them think. Does the empire they have been defending even exist anymore?
A bully of an emperor keeps an architect alive just to torture him. The ending was a letdown.
A tale of Egg, the squire who isn’t a squire, and the knight he serves.
I’d say, you won’t be missing much if you didn’t read this anthology. But that’s just me…