David J. Weber, Book Review Editor
Dennis E. Berge, Professor of History at San Diego State University and occasional contributor to this journal has translated and edited a remarkable document, Considerations on the Political and Social Situation of the Mexican Republic: 1847 (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1975, $2.95, paperback). The original Spanish version published in Mexico in 1848 was authored by one or more anonymous Mexican liberals who sought to explain their country’s recent humiliating defeat in the Mexican War. Well-organized, smoothly translated and judiciously edited, this short book offers interesting insights into a variety of aspects of Mexican life. The authors maintained, for example, that Mexico’s defeat by the United States could not be ascribed to “cowardness” or “weakness.” Instead, most Mexicans were too oppressed and alienated from their government to fight: “if the laboring classes of any other nation saw themselves oppressed to the extent of ours they would not have been content merely to show indifference, but would have joined the invading army to avenge themselves” (p. 28).
The Western Jewish History Center-Magnes Museum has published The Western Journal of Issac Mayer Wise, 1877, edited by William Kramer (Berkeley, 1974, $5.00, paperback), much of which appeared originally in the Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly. Dr. Wise, the founder of Reform Judaism and “the greatest Jewish voice of nineteenth-century America” came west by train from Cincinnati to San Francisco in the summer of 1877 to raise funds for the Hebrew Union College of which he was president. During his two month absence he wrote a dozen letters, which comprise the heart of this small book. The letters touch on a wide range of subjects and will be of interest to social historians as well as those interested in religious history. Dr. Wise did not visit Southern California, but went directly to San Francisco where he found high unemployment and “Quite a number of ‘hoodlums’.” So what else is new?
Two recent additions to the growing mountain of literature on American Indians have crossed our desk. California Indian History: A Classified and Annotated Guide to Source Materials by Robert F. Heizer, Karen M. Nissen, and Edward D. Castillo (Ramona: Ballena Press, 1975, $4.95, paperback), is lightly annotated, but promises to be a useful reference for it contains 677 entries and is topically arranged and cross indexed. The American Indian, edited by Norris Hundley, foreword by Vine Deloria, Jr. (Santa Barbara: American Bibliographical Center-Clio Press, 1974, paperback), contains six articles originally published in the Pacific Historical Review in 1971 and apparently reprinted here to capture the classroom market. The collection begins with a historiographical article by Wilcomb Washburn, and includes essays on more specific aspects of Indian history by Robert Berkhofer, Jr., William T. Hagan, Wilbur R. Jacobs, Nancy Oestreich Lurie, and Donald L. Parman. It is especially notable that several of these essays deal with twentieth century topics: the Indian in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Indian drinking patterns, and the Indian as part of a “Fourth World” movement.
The University of California Press has brought out a paperback edition of Alexander Saxton’s The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (1975, $3.95), first published in 1971 and widely acclaimed by reviewers, among them Stanford Lyman in the pages of this journal (Spring 1972). The University of Utah Press has issued a facsimile of The Mariposa Indian War, 1850-1851. Diaries of Robert Eccleston: The California Gold Rush, Yosemite, and the High Sierra, edited by C. Gregory Crampton and first published in 1957 (1975, $10.00). A miner who joined the volunteer Mariposa Battalion, Eccleston was the only one of some 200 men who kept a diary as whites pursued Indians through the High Sierra.