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review 2018-08-12 18:08
When the Southwest was the far north
The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest Under Mexico - David J. Weber

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.

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url 2018-02-20 02:52
Lisa Haselton's Reviews & Interviews

Interview with suspense author Khaled Talib.

Source: lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.sg/2018/02/interview-with-suspense-author-khaled.html
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review 2018-02-09 20:41
A book strong on plot and fast action and full of information about la Santa Muerte.
Freaky Franky - William Blackwell

 

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I have been reading a book called Paperbacks from Hell and when I saw this book, it reminded me so much of many of the covers and topics I had been reading about that I could not resist, although I was not sure about the title (was it horror, humour, or something else entirely?).

The novel begins with quite a bang. A strong scene where we are introduced to la Santa Muerte (Saint Death) a religion/cult (depending on whose point of view you take) that has flourished in Mexico and is spreading to many other places. Although we all have heard about the Mexican Día de los Muertos, this might cover new ground for many of us, but the author is well informed and provides good background into the history and the various opinions on Saint Death, that is an interesting topic in its own right.

But don’t get me wrong. This book is not all tell and not show. We have a number of characters who are linked (unknowingly at first) by their devotion to Saint Death. What in the beginning seem to be separate episodes, which show us the best and the worst consequences of praying to Saint Death, later come together in an accomplished narrative arc. Whilst praying for health and good things can result in miracles, praying for revenge and death carries serious and deadly consequences.

The story, written in the third person, alternates the points of views most of the characters, from the main characters to some of the bit actors, good and bad (although that is pretty relative in this novel) and it moves at good pace. It is dynamic and full of action, and this is a novel where the plot dominates. The characters are not drawn in a lot of detail and I did not find them as cohesive and compelling as the story, in part, perhaps, because they are, at times, under the control of Saint Death (but this is not a standard story of satanic possession). Although none of the characters are morally irreproachable,  Anisa and Dr. Ricardo are more sympathetic and easier to root for. Yes, Anisa might resent her missed opportunities and the fact that she is stuck in Prince Edward Island looking after her son, but she goes out of her way to help her friend Helen and her brother Franklin and warns them not to pray for revenge. Dr. Ricardo threads a fine line between helping others and protecting himself, but he does the best he can. Franklin, the Freaky Franky of the title, is a much more negative character and pretty creepy, especially early in the novel. Although we learn about his past and the tragedies in his life, he is Anisa’s brother, and she’s also gone through the same losses, without behaving like he does. He uses Saint Death’s power mostly for evil, although he seems to change his mind and attitude after Anisa’s intervention (I was not totally convinced by this turn of events). I found Natalie, the American tourist visiting the Dominican Republic with her fiancé, Terry, difficult to fathom as well. Perhaps some of it could be explained by the love/lust spell she is under, but she clearly suspects what Franklin has done to her, and her changed feelings towards a man she has known for five minutes makes no sense, at least to me (sorry, I am trying to avoid spoilers). Much of the action and events require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, but not more than is usual in the genre.

The novel keeps wrong-footing the readers. At first, we might think that everything that is going on can be explained by self-suggestion and that all the evil (and the good) is in the mind of the believer. These are desperate characters holding on to anything that offers them a glint of hope. And later, when bad things start to happen, it seems logical to believe that the characters we are following have acted upon their negative thoughts and impulses (and even they have doubts as to what they might have done). But nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.

Although there is plenty of explicit violence and some sexual references (those not as explicit), I did not find it frightening or horrific as such. However, it is a disquieting, dark, and eerie book, because of the way it invites readers to look into the limits of morality and right and wrong. Is revenge ever justified? Is it a matter of degrees? Who decides? It seems la Santa Muerte has very specific thoughts about this, so be very careful what you wish (or pray) for.

An eye-opener with regards to the Saint Death cult and a book that will be enjoyed by readers who don’t mind supernatural novels with plenty of violence, and prefer their plots dynamic and action-driven.

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text 2018-02-06 19:53
My weird library

BookLikes is not allowing me to "connect" this post with a book that is in the BL catalogue and is listed on my shelves.  I DON'T KNOW WHY.

 

Even when I "search on my shelves," it says not found.  As you can see, the book page shows that it's on my "Read" shelf, which is where I put it when I entered it a few days ago.  I own this book, the 1966 paperback edition.

 

Why do I own it?  Why do I own Coe's The Maya?  Because of Charles.

 

Charles Cooper Schlereth was my high school Spanish teacher my junior and senior years at Arlington High School.  He was a graduate of the City College of Mexico City, where he had earned a degree in Pre-Columbian History.  As a result, we got a lot more history and culture than most foreign language students.

 

Our textbook for Spanish 3 was the third in the Holt, Rinehart and Winston series, Español: Leer, Hablar y Escribir. Formatted into nine issues of a magazine titled "Leer," the book presented articles, columns, advertisements, and other features originally published in magazines and newspapers in Spanish-speaking countries.

 

 

I enjoyed it so much that many years later -- 1981 or thereabouts -- I paid a visit to the high school and managed to obtain a copy of the book, which was no longer used as a current text.  I still have it.  Of course!

 

My senior year, we didn't have a formal text.  Instead, Charles selected several popular novels for us to read and discuss, among them Doña Barbara, Lluvia Roja, and Pensativa.  We watched the film version of Doña Barbara starring María Félix.  I still remember the opening line of the novel, though nothing of the plot stuck with me.

 

"Cuando el bongo remonta el Arauca.. . . "

 

Our fourth year class was somewhat illegal, a distinction we all took pride in.  School policies required that any class have a minimum of ten students registered or it would be cancelled.  On the first day, we had only nine students present -- I can probably name all of us if I think about it long enough -- out of the ten registered.  One of the ten, however, was known to have moved away, leaving us under the legal minimum.  For the first week or two of classes, Charles dutifully marked Kevin Harvell present each day until the time passed for cancellation of classes.

 

Charles talked occasionally about the idea of taking us to Mexico City, perhaps over spring break, but the topic usually faded.  Then one Friday morning we nine took matters into our own hands.

 

Our class met the first period of the day, and we were all seated like good students a few minutes before the bell rang.  Charles had not appeared yet, and we started talking about this Mexico trip.  How we came up with the idea, I don't remember, but we decided to go on strike.

 

At the beginning of the year, Charles had told us we would no longer speak English in class.  We were, after all, fourth year students and we should be able to converse in Spanish by now.  Sometimes we struggled -- we all had dictionaries and referenced them often! -- but the rule had stuck.  So when Charles entered the room that Friday morning, we simply refused to speak at all.

 

"No estamos hablando," we said in response to his comments and questions.

 

That is, we weren't going to talk until he agreed to look into the possibility of taking us to Mexico City over spring break.

 

That was Friday.  He agreed to see about putting something together, and we consented to participate in class once again.  And by Monday, he brought us the proposal:

 

 

Yes, my BookLikes friends, we went from northwest suburban Chicago to Mexico City and back . . . by bus.

 

 

(My brother on the right, my dad holding my sister on the far right.)

 

It was cold the day we left; everyone else was in long pants and heavy sweaters.  I was the only one in cut-offs and a lightweight shirt.  Two days later it was 90-something degrees in Waco, Texas, and everyone else melted.  I was comfortable.

 

We spent a total of 100 hours on the bus -- 51 hours down, 49 hours back -- and only had six days or so in Mexico City.  We didn't see nearly enough.  The pyramids, of course.

 

 

And Obregón's arm.

 

 

(For those interested, the ultimate fate of Obregón's arm is here

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/12/10/world/a-mexican-relic-is-buried-at-last.html)

 

I've remained interested in MesoAmerican history and prehistory ever since.  I have lots of weird books, as a result.

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url 2017-10-04 23:50
Why I included romance in my new thriller, GUN KISS

 

GUN KISS will be released by Canada’s Imajin Books in Fall this year.

Source: www.khaledtalibthriller.com
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