Are walls on the US-Mexican border as effective as the current US president claims? In Border Land, Border Water, historian C. J. Alvarez challenges such assertions, but not for any predictable—or dogmatically political—reasons. Combining archival documents, secondary sources, and rare maps and photographs, Alvarez adeptly details the history of borderlands infrastructure from the perspective of those who built and monitored the walls and dams along the US-Mexican border, altering natural landscapes. While his ambitions are as vast as his interdisciplinary approach, his focus on the built environment is relatively tight, as he demonstrates that border structures were never as permanent or effective as their builders anticipated. His conclusions are strong but nuanced and successfully weave Kelly Lytle Hernández's celebrated work on the limitations of US-Mexican borderlands policing with the recent scholarship of environmental historians such as Mikael Wolfe, who question the...
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Book Review| November 01 2020
Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide
Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide. By Alvarez, C. J.
University of Texas Press,
301pp. Cloth, $45.00.
Hispanic American Historical Review (2020) 100 (4): 736–738.
James V. Mestaz; Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 November 2020; 100 (4): 736–738. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-8647263
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