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New Mexico State University

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NMSU emeritus faculty win second American Spur Award for western writing

New Mexico State University emeritus faculty members Charles Harris and Louis Sadler have earned their second American Spur Award from Western Writers of America. The two won the award for Best Western Contemporary Nonfiction for their book "The Secret War in El Paso: Mexican Revolutionary Intrigue, 1906-1920."


The duo, who won their first award in 2005 for "The Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution," were also named the best living, western, non-fiction writers by "True West" magazine's "2010 Best of the West" source book.

"We were honored to have received this award," Harris said, "We have been working in this area for thirty years now, studying the impact of the Mexican Revolution on this region and this is simply a component to the projects we have planned."

"The Secret War in El Paso" examines the mechanics of rebellion in a town that was the largest and most important American city on the Mexican border during the Mexican Revolution. It was the scene of many clandestine operations as American businesses and the U.S. federal government sought to maintain their influences in Mexico and protect national interest while keeping an eye on key revolutionary figures.

Using 80,000 pages of declassified FBI documents on the Mexican Revolution and hundreds of Mexican secret agent reports from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations archive, Harris and Sadler were able to take a balanced approach when writing, considering both the FBI and Mexican consulate views.

Established in 1953 by Western Writers of America, the Spur Awards are given annually for distinguished writing about the American West and are among the oldest and most prestigious awards in American literature.