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What I’m Reading: UNSETTLED LAND: From Revolution To Republic, the Struggle For Texas (2022) by Sam W. Haynes

Shared Article from Goodreads

Unsettled Land: From Revolution to Republic, the Struggle for Te…

The Texas Revolution has long been cast as an epic episode in the origins of the American West. As the story goes, larger-than-life figures like Sam H…

Sam W. Haynes @ goodreads.com

Unsettled Land

Sam W. Haynes (2022)


. . . On the eve of the rebellion[1] Texas was a region of extraordinary ethnic diversity, having been a place of convergence for the peoples of North America for more than a century. In the 1700s, its indigenous population saw the influx of the Comanches and the Apaches, nomadic tribes following the buffalo herds that came down off the High Plains. At the same time, the Spanish Crown began to make a tentative effort to colonize the region, establishing a string of missions, military outposts, and civil settlements from the Rio Grande to the Sabine River. The flow of migrants increased sharply in the early nineteenth century, with the arrival of Cherokees, Shawnees, and other refugee Indian tribes from the United States. They were followed in turn by white Americans, some of whom brought enslaved men and women of African descent. European immigrants, like those of the Beales colony,[2] were also beginning to make their way to Texas. Together they created a patchwork of overlapping borderlands and ethnic enclaves on Mexico’s northern frontier, each group trying to navigate and make sense of the turbulent world in which they found themselves. . . .

. . . When a wider lens is used to see the Texas Revolution, the alpha male heroics and moral clarity of the familiar narrative dissolve and a new, more chaotic picture emerges. More than a contest between the Mexican army and Anglo rebels, the struggle for independence is also the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, of lives upended by the seismic shift from a multiracial society to white rule. If the birth of early modern Texas is a story of triumph, it is also in equal measure one of tragedy, which saw the coming together, then pulling apart, of people in an unsettled land.

— Sam W. Haynes (2022), Unsettled Land: From Revolution To Republic, the Struggle For Texas

  1. [1][The Texas Revolution of Fall 1835 – Spring 1836. —R.G.]
  2. [2][A failed Euro-American immigrant colony in a remote reach of the Rio Grande Valley, 1834-1836 (which Haynes introduced at the start of the Introduction). The colony was struggling and probably already doomed when the colonists decided to abandon it ahead of the Mexican Army, during Santa Anna’s 1836 expedition to crush the rebellion in Texas.]

What I’m Reading: Meduza, “The morning after his plane crashed in Russia’s Tver region, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death is still unconfirmed….”

|I’d been meaning to write something about the recent invasion of Russia by the Russian invasion of Ukraine — about Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group, the mutiny and the cracks in the Russian warfare state and the lesson that war is not a weapon that you can aim. I don’t know how much I had to say about it ultimately, except that the entire episode was at the same time something driven to an astonishing extent by modern technology and social media, and yet also one of the most Roman episodes I had seen, straight out of Gibbon — as if I had been reading a newspaper article one day about CENTCOM operations in the Middle East or whatever and then turned the page and found myself reading about Decius turning from the Danubian frontier to march against Philip the Arab. In any case, though, if this morning’s news reports are confirmed, then it will look like the entire thing may have had the most Russian possible ending:

Shared Article from Meduza

The morning after his plane crashed in Russia’s Tver region, Y…

As of Thursday morning, the Russian officials still hadn’t confirmed that the founder of Russia’s notorious Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin was dea…


We Are All Malayan Sun Bears Now

This past Tuesday in the New York Times:

Shared Article from nytimes.com

Chinese Zoo Denies, in Voice of a Bear, That Sun Bear Is a Perso…

"Some people think I look too human when I stand up," the Hangzhou Zoo's statement said, after a video prompted internet conspiracy theories. "I am a …

By Alan Yuhas and Chang Che @ nytimes.com

Chinese Zoo Denies, in Voice of a Bear, That Sun Bear Is a Person in a Suit

. . . Employees at the Hangzhou zoo, accused of harboring a human in sun bear disguise, felt compelled to respond. On July 29, an unnamed worker defended the bear and the zoo to a Chinese news outlet in an interview that circulated on social media.

Of course it’s a real animal, it’s definitely not a person in disguise, he said. Our place is a state-run facility, such situations won’t happen here.

The worker offered an unusual follow-up defense, arguing that bear suits are simply too hot to wear in the summer, when temperatures reach 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit. If you were to wear a suit, you definitely couldn’t bear it[1] for more than a few minutes, he said. You’d have to lie down.

Was he speaking from personal experience? He didn’t say. His explanation did not satisfy all the doubters, so the zoo followed up with a statement on Sunday written in the voice of Angela the Malayan sun bear.

The statement insisted that the bear was truly a bear, as opposed to a person pretending to be a bear — or a person pretending to be a bear insisting they were not a person pretending to be a bear.

Yesterday after work, I received a call from the park manager asking me if I was slacking off and had a biped replace me, the statement said, Much to my surprise, I’m just sitting in the mountains and I go viral on the internet. Some people think I look too human when I stand up. It seems you really don’t understand me. Previously, some visitors even thought I was too petite to be a bear! I want to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A Malayan sun bear!

. . . Charles Robbins, director of research at the Washington State University Bear Center, agreed with the theory that the bear was begging for food.

Looks like a sun bear to me, Dr. Robbins said on Tuesday. . . .

— Chang Che, Chinese Zoo Denies, in Voice of a Bear, That Sun Bear Is a Person in a Suit
New York Times, 2 Sextilis 2023

  1. [1][Sic. —R.G.]
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