Américo Paredes tells the story of Cortez, the man and the legend, in vivid, fascinating detail in "With His Pistol in His Hand," which also presents a unique study of a ballad in the making. Deftly woven into the story are interpretations of the Border country, its history, its people, and their folkways.
During World War II, he worked for the International American Red Cross and wrote for the Stars and Stripes army newspaper in the Far East. He returned to Texas with a new bride and a passion for continuing his formal education and his writing. Paredes did both at the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed his Ph.D. in 1956. With the publication of his dissertation, “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero in 1958, Paredes soon emerged as a challenger to the status quo. His book questioned the mythic nature of the Texas Rangers and provided an alternative counter-cultural narrative to the existing traditional narratives of Walter Prescott Webb and J. Frank Dobie, among others.
For the next forty years he was a brilliant teacher and prolific writer who championed the preservation of border culture and history. He was a soft-spoken, at times temperamental, yet fearless professor. He was a co-founder in 1970 of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is credited with introducing the concept of Greater Mexico, decades before its wider acceptance today among transnationalist scholars. He received numerous awards, including La Orden del Aguila Azteca, Mexico’s most prestigious service award to a foreigner. Paredes became a scholar of scholars, guiding many students to become academic leaders.
Manuel F. Medrano interviewed Paredes over a five-year period before Paredes’ death in 1999, and also interviewed his family and colleagues. For many Mexican Americans, Paredes’ historical legacy is that he raised, carried, and defended their cultural flag with a dignity that both friends and foes respected.
This classic novel about the struggles of Texas Mexicans to preserve their property, culture and identity in the face of Anglo-American migration to and dominance of the Rio Grande Valley is available for the first time in Spanish.
Born in the early part of the twentieth century, George Washington Gómez is named after the American rebel and hero because his parents are certain their son will be a great man too. George, or Guálinto as he’s known, grows up in turbulent times. His family has lived for generations in what has become Texas. “I was born here. My father was born here and so was my grandfather and his father before him. And then they come, they come and take it, steal it and call it theirs,” his Uncle Feliciano rages.
The Texas Mexicans’ attempts to take back their land from the Gringos and the rinches—the brutal Texas Rangers—fail. Guálinto’s father, who never participated in the seditionist violence, is murdered in cold blood, and Feliciano makes a death-bed promise to raise his nephew without hatred.
Young Guálinto comes of age in a world where Mexicans are treated as second-class citizens. Teachers can beat and mistreat them with impunity, and most of his Mexican-American friends drop out of school at a young age. But the Gómez family insists that he continue his education, which he will need in order to do great things for his people. And so his school years create a terrible conflict within him: Guálinto alternately hates and admires the Gringo, loves and despises the Mexican. Written in the 1930s but not published until 1990, George Washington Gómez has become mandatory reading for anyone interested in Mexican-American literature, culture and history.