The liquid lifeline of an arid land, the Rio Grande has always been a vital presence in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. A source of human sustenance for at least 15,000 years, the river has also been a site of conflict ever since exploring Spaniards first crossed its channel to colonize the Native Americans. Today, it is one of the frontiers in the war against terrorism in the Middle East. Yet the Rio Grande has a life independent of the people who use it as a border, or a hiding place, or an ...
The liquid lifeline of an arid land, the Rio Grande has always been a vital presence in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. A source of human sustenance for at least 15,000 years, the river has also been a site of conflict ever since exploring Spaniards first crossed its channel to colonize the Native Americans. Today, it is one of the frontiers in the war against terrorism in the Middle East. Yet the Rio Grande has a life independent of the people who use it as a border, or a hiding place, or an ever-diminishing source of irrigation water. This autonomous life of the river is what the writers and photographers included in this book seek to capture.
Rio Grande explores the ecology, history, culture, and politicization of the river. Jan Reid has assembled writings by an astonishing array of leading authors—Larry McMurtry, Tony Hillerman, Paul Horgan, Charles Bowden, John Graves, Woody Guthrie, John Reed, John Nichols, Robert Boswell, James Carlos Blake, Elena Poniatowska, William Langewiesche, Molly Ivins, Dagoberto Gilb, and Gloria Anzaldúa, to name but a few—who ponder the river’s historical and contemporary meanings through short stories, essays, newspaper and magazine articles, and excerpts from novels, histories, memoirs, and nonfiction reporting. Reid also adds his own reflections on the river, drawn from years of traveling the Rio Grande, talking to its people, and conducting archival research.
In addition to the fine writing, historical and contemporary photographs by such well-known photographers as Laura Gilpin, Russell Lee, Robert Runyon, Bill Wittliff, W. D. Smithers, James Evans, Frank Armstrong, Ave Bonar, Earl Nottingham, and Alan Pogue create a stunning visual record of the stark beauty and elemental lifeways of the Rio Grande. As a whole, these voices and visions confirm the river’s significance, not only as a real place, but even more as an object of the mythic imagination.
Jan Reid, of Austin, Texas, is the author or coauthor of seven books, including The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, Revised Edition; Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush; and The Bullet Meant for Me: A Memoir. He is a founding contributor and writer-at-large for Texas Monthly and has also written for Esquire, the New York Times, Men's Journal, GQ, and many other publications.
Part 1 Río del Norte
Paul Horgan, from Great River
Tony Hillerman, from New Mexico, Rio Grande and Other Essays
Bill Logan, "The Old Meat Hunter"
John Nichols, from The Milagro Beanfield War
Part 2 Desert Bloom
Josiah Gregg, from Commerce of the Prairies
Robert Boswell, from American Owned Love
William Langewiesche, from Cutting for Sign
Charles Bowden, from Down by the River
Dagoberto Gilb, from The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña
Cecilia Ballí, "Ciudad de la Muerte"
Part 3 La Junta
John Graves, "Big River"
John Reed, from Insurgent Mexico
Don Henry Ford, Jr., from Contrabando
Robert Draper, "Soldiers of Misfortune"
Aristeo Brito, from The Devil in Texas
Part 4 Big Bend
Robert T. Hill, from "Running the Cañons of the Rio Grande"
Woody Guthrie, from Seeds of Man
Molly Ivins, "Mayor of Lajitas Not the Goat He Used to Be"
John Spong, "Sand Trap"
Part 5 Crossings
Stephen Harrigan, "Highway One," from Comanche Midnight
Dick J. Reavis, "Gateway to Texas"
Larry McMurtry, from Lonesome Dove
Elmer Kelton, from The Time It Never Rained
Tom Miller, "Confessions of a Parrot Trooper," from On the Border
Jan Reid, "Busting Out of Mexico," from Close Calls
John Davidson, from The Long Road North
María Eugenia Guerra, "Nothing to Declare"
Elena Poniatowska, from Guerrero Viejo
Part 6 La Frontera
Rolando Hinojosa, from "A Sense of Place"
Robert Mendoza, "A Piece of Land"
James Carlos Blake, from In the Rogue Blood
Irene Beltrán Hernández, from Across the Great River
Américo Paredes, from George Washington Gómez
Gary Cartwright, "Border Towns," from Confessions of a Washed-Up Sportswriter
Oscar Casares, "Domingo," from Brownsville
Gloria Anzaldúa, from Borderlands