the poor laborers who find that they have come to el norte only to exchange one kind of hell for another. In 1883, the devil is Ben Lynch, who married into the Uranga family to gain their land. Fighting Lynch on the legal front is newspaperman Francisco Uranga. But Don Pancho, as he is affectionately known, is doomed to failure when confronting the monetary and military might of Lynch and los rinches, the rangers who back him. Lynch is the sort of man who throws a party for his workers in order to lure a horse thief to his house. Then he uses a cannon borrowed from the local cavalry to rid himself of the thief and most of the thief’s friends. Don Pancho does win some victories, like making the Mexican government see that it would not be wise to legally export laborers from Mexico to work Lynch’s fields. This turns Don Pancho into a local legend one which will inspire his great-grandchild to rise up and “remove the crown of thorns in Presidio … and put it on someone else.” The 1942 section of The Devil in Texas replaces the Texas Rangers with officers of the Border Patrol, who see little difference between U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent and Mexican illegals, both of whom are easier to The Devil in Texas ought to be … required reading in Texas. shoot than deport. The angry pride of the displaced Tejanos has been transmuted into the resignation of the Chicano survivors, trapped in a struggle with the land, the weather, and the masters. No longer able to fight on the same level as had Don Pancho, they have devolved into either migrant laborers themselves or coyotes the middle men in the oppression business. Where hope should spring, in the church, there is only the assurance that suffering is a part of life and that the more one suffers, the greater one’s reward in the next life. But this gentle doctrine, designed to mitigate open class warfare, is one of the cruelest of the devil’s jokes. What makes life tolerable for the poor of Presidio is not the ritual of a church promising eternal rewards, but the ritual of suffering itself the numbing of the mind to all hopes save daily survival. But in the midst of this despair, another sort of hope arrives in the form a child. His mother is so reluctant to bring the child into a such a painful world that the child must speak to us from the womb, prophetic of his destiny as a poet who will set things to rights, a chronicler who will wield the truth like a sword. The autobiographical element here is obvious; whether or not El diablo en Texas set anything to rights in Presidio, I do not know. The Devil in Texas is one of those books that ought to be, but never will be, required reading in Texas. It is a book to make you angry. It is a book you can’t forget. 16 MARCH 22, 1991 BY GREG MOSES THE HISTORY OF TEXAS By Robert A. Calvert and Arnoldo De Leon Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1990, 480 pages, paper EFORE YOU KNOW anything else about The History of Texas you know that it’s a big and beautiful book. The text, cover, and endpapers, designed by Barbara Williams; the flawless presentation of black-and-white photography selected by, and occasionally courtesy of, Robert A. Calvert; the cartography of James Bier; the typesetting by Graphic Composition; the printing by Malloy Lithography; and finally, the cover photo by Tom Algire all these arts contrive to attract one’s eye to the book. Moreover, The History is our history as we’ve never been told it before by any textbook. In the index one finds Willie Nelson, Ronnie Dugger, Molly Ivins, Earl Campbell, and Robert Rauschenberg; not to mention the Cowboy Strike, the Chicano Movement, or the Dirty Thirty. Printed across the inside cover is a double timeline, one strand of which begins with Native Americans who developed agriculture in 7000 B.C. Three thousand years later, artists of the lower Pecos created distinctive images of life. One sees in a photo an ancient image of a black panther. Another strand begins in 711 A.D. with the Moslem conquest of Spain. The two strands of this timeline converge at one point in 1492, the year when the last of the Moors was expelled from Spain, and the year Columbus sailed up to the Bahamas for the first time. This is how The History by Calvert and De Leon begins. Further into The History we read how Stephen F. Austin inherited a contract to colonize several million acres of land east of the lower Pecos. Before his plat was fully developed, however, he turned on his Mexican partners. Austin and some ol’ boys declared themselves qualified to manage the business of said property, and they pulled out some guns to prove it. Thus we remember the Alamo. In 1845 Texas was annexed by the United States. Again, guns were used. And The History duly reports the meaning of life under such eminent domain: “Anglos dominated, of course, and the majority of blacks Writer. Greg Moses teaches African-American history at Texas A&M. were still slaves, Mexicans of the lower class occupied the same stratum, and Indians were considered savage.” Furthermore, “individual promoters and developers now determined a city’s appearance, and the old Spanish tradition of following a designated plan could not be found.” Could there have been any misgivings among Austin and his cohorts? The History suggests not: “They constantly viewed Mexicans as inferior people.” Sculptor Elisabet Ney leaves us a distinctive image of Austin now housed within Austin’s Capitol building where the man in dirtied white stone holds out to us a smooth and dirtied white tablet. A contract for us to sign? In The History we also learn that Ney’s best work portrays Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep. Which of Ney’s two images would sooner be rid of its spots? Halfway into the pages of The History we find photographic evidence of the burning of Jesse Washington’s body at the Waco town square. Pieces of Mr. Washington’s body are collected before and after the lynching. In the heat of awful fire one sees human flesh. Ten thousand look on. Seems everyone that day wears a hat,’ the better to shade the eyes from insufferable light. And this is what our history brings us to. This big, beautiful book will be neither sentimental nor picturesque. That 1916 photograph made the whole world queasy at the mention of Waco, Texas. W.E.B. Du Bois wrote from New York: “any talk of the triumph of Christianity, or the spread of human culture, is twaddle so long as the Waco lynching is possible in the United States of America.” Did Hitler see this photo of holocaust as it spread fresh and newsworthy around the globe? He would have been 27 years old. Faulkner would have been 28. Turning later to an episode at everyone’s favorite 40 acres, we read how University of Texas regents voted in 1942 to fire four economics professors. This was, of course, back in the days when economics really was a Liberal Art. UT President Homer Price Rainey refused to fire the professors. In 1944, regents told Rainey to remove from the English Department’s supplemental reading list John Dos Passos’s novel USA. When, true to his character, Rainey denounced the regents’ interference, the board, true to habits of its own, fired Rainey directly. In 1948 Beauford Jester beat Rainey in a campaign for governor. Today, the most humongous, ugliest building ever devised as a warehouse for feepaying students sits upon the 40 acres. It is named after Jester, not Rainey. And this is how our history comes back to us, thanks to Texas Timelines
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