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Line in the Sand:
A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border
Rachel St. John

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"St. John's book is replete with plenty of primary sources and archival material, too, unearthing many archival sources untouched by other historians. These primary materials add to the rich interweaving of ideas and conclusions that she draws, and pepper the prose with new anecdotes not seen in other related works. . . . [A] quality book--one that I will use in my borderlands classes and seminars for many years, and one that all borderlands scholars and students will need to have. They will enjoy it immensely!"--Sterling Evans, H-Net Reviews

"This book is a welcome addition to the increasing body of U.S.-Mexico border scholarship that has appeared in the twenty-first century. Rachel St. John provides a well-written narrative based on exhaustive research from a variety of sources on both sides of the border."--F. Arturo Rosales, New Mexico Historical Review

"Rachel St. John's Line in the Sand is the best book yet on the early development of the U.S.-Mexico border. It should be read widely by policy makers who continue to claim that border debates arose only during the very recent past, and by students of borderlands history at all levels. Particularly impressive is how St. John brings together the concerns and approaches of several subfields of U.S. and Mexican history, including histories of the U.S-Mexico border, the American West, and Mexico's northern frontier."--Geraldo L. Cadava, American Studies Journal

"Rachel St. John has written an intelligent and highly readable transnational history of the western half of the United States-Mexico border. . . . St. John's research is thorough and impressive. . . . She has used English- and Spanish-language source materials and conducted research in both Mexican and American archival collections. Her sure grasp of the histories of both nations allows her to explore confidently the important economic, cultural, and political developments occurring on both sides of the border."--Patrick Ettinger, The Americas

"The general trajectory of St. John's narrative has become somewhat familiar to borderlands scholars, but Line in the Sand deepens our understanding by focusing on the borderline itself and by extending the discussion of border enforcement into Mexico. The author shows that by the 1930s, a significant territorial boundary not only regulated border crossings but also enforced cultural and racial barriers to national belonging. With elegant prose and incisive analysis, she convincingly argues that anyone who hoped to cross had to reckon with its increasingly salient restrictions."--Eric V. Meeks, Journal of American Ethnic History

"St. John's intervention in the public discourse over the border and immigration encourages us to take a wider view of the border to see it as a symptom of larger economic and political processes rather than the cause."--Raúl A. Ramos, Diplomatic History


"Rachel St. John untangles the myths surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border in this thoughtful and meticulously researched book. In so doing, she not only restores the border to its central place in borderlands studies but also renders the border essential for understanding the history of North America."--Karl Jacoby, Brown University

"Line in the Sand is a fascinating, imaginative, and surprising history of the Mexican border, a border which is all too often reduced to clichés. In her exemplary work, Rachel St. John's border has depth, surprises, and great complexity. Her book is a wonderful corrective to our current moment, which seems ruled by a rush of conflicting, often hysterical, and sometimes downright false information. It forces us to pause and think about how we came to this and what else is possible."--Richard White, Stanford University

"A pleasure to read, Line in the Sand is the first truly transnational history of the U.S.-Mexico land border. Grounded in extensive and meticulous research in both countries, this comprehensive book will be an important contribution to border and borderlands studies and U.S. history more broadly. It does a wonderful job of showing border dynamics in different realms and in all their complexity."--Mae Ngai, Columbia University

"This elegant book draws on the archives and historiographies of the United States and Mexico to place the borderlands in a broad, transnational context. St. John focuses great attention on the social, political, and institutional foundations of the border itself, and the light she shines on regional and national perspectives makes this outstanding book essential reading for historians of all stripes. It is one of the most satisfying borderlands histories available."--Sam Truett, University of New Mexico

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File created: 4/24/2017

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