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NMSU professors emeriti win coveted award for book on Texas Rangers

"The Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution" by Charles Harris and Louis Ray Sadler has received the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America as the best contemporary history of 2004.

They join a celebrated cast of former Spur winners including authors Tony Hillerman, Max Evans, Marc Simmons and Paul Hutton, all from New Mexico. Other works that have earned the Spur Award include such well-known books as "Lonesome Dove" and "Dances with Wolves."

The Ranger book is the product of 30 years of collaboration and research between Harris and Sadler, NMSU professors emeriti of history.

"We started to write a scholarly paper on gunrunning in El Paso and soon found that you couldn't understand what was going on in El Paso without understanding the entire border," Harris said.

Thus began an in-depth research on the U.S.-Mexico border region. The book on the Rangers is a part of the result of that research, and there likely will be more books to follow, Harris said.

Sadler noted that theirs is the first Ranger history to use archives from the Mexican government and declassified FBI records on the Mexican Revolution.

The book has been controversial, Sadler said, because there seems to be a general unwillingness to recognize that the president of Mexico could have "bounced around the president of the United States" and played a clandestine role to spawn violence along the border.

According to the authors' statement on the back cover, that violence led the "governor of Texas to order the Texas Rangers to wipe out the insurgency along the border. This resulted in an estimated 300 Hispanics being killed by the Rangers and others without benefit of judge and jury."
Sadler said, "Here's a case where people simply became cannon fodder, and Venustiano Carranza, the president of Mexico, wanted it to happen."

Harris and Sadler will be recognized at the 2005 Western Writers of America Convention in June in Spokane, Wash.

"Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution" was published by University of New Mexico Press.