Moving across local, regional, and national scales, St. John shows how government officials, Native American raiders, ranchers, railroad builders, miners, investors, immigrants, and smugglers contributed to the rise of state power on the border and developed strategies to navigate the increasingly regulated landscape. Over the border's history, the U.S. and Mexican states gradually developed an expanding array of official laws, ad hoc arrangements, government agents, and physical barriers that did not close the line, but made it a flexible barrier that restricted the movement of some people, goods, and animals without impeding others. By the 1930s, their efforts had created the foundations of the modern border control apparatus.
Drawing on extensive research in U.S. and Mexican archives, Line in the Sand weaves together a transnational history of how an undistinguished strip of land became the significant and symbolic space of state power and national definition that we know today.
In contrast with many current books that treat the war as a fundamentally American experience, Timothy J. Henderson's A Glorious Defeat offers a fresh perspective on the Mexican side of the equation. Examining the manner in which Mexico gained independence, Henderson brings to light a greater understanding of that country's intense factionalism and political paralysis leading up to and through the war. Also touching on a range of topics from culture, ethnicity, religion, and geography, this comprehensive yet concise narrative humanizes the conflict and serves as the perfect introduction for new readers of Mexican history.