Richard H. Peterson, Book Review Editor
The Mexican-American War: An Annotated Bibliography. Compiled and edited by Norman E. Tutorow. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1981. Index. Maps. Tables. 427 pages. $39.95.
Reviewed by A.P. Nasatir, Research Professor of History, Emeritus, San Diego State University, whose many scholarly works include Before Lewis and Clark (1952) and Borderland in Retreat (1976).
When this reviewer first visited Mexico City, ninety years after the close of the Mexican War, the Mexicans were still exercised over it, and carefully monitored every speech of an American historian involving that epoch. We have had all kinds of books, pamphlets, essays and historical speeches on every side of that war, the first involving directly our “Manifest Destiny.”
Apologists and critics alike ranted, raved and spewed vitriolitically on the war and its outcome. Yet, every generation must write, or perhaps rewrite, its own history. Revisionists and rerevisionists have tackled and published many aspects of the Mexican War. Finally, as a graduate student, I thought when Justin Smith’s magnum opus on the war and my own teacher Irving I. MacCormac’s James K. Polk were published in 1919, that all questions about the Mexican War were at last settled. Then occurred another round of historians and even a further revisionist group of studies on the period.
“Manifest Destiny” and the West have always had interesting student appeal, as well as writer’s appeal. And the lengthy bibliography that appeared in Volume II of Smith’s War With Mexico would always suffice to whet the appetites of scholars, and offer starting points for their research. Smith’s bibliography is a colossal list without any annotations or comments.
To aid in all phases of the period of the Mexican War, Dr. Norman Tutorow has come up with a full and thorough bibliography which will be of immense help to the beginning as well as the advanced scholar in this field. He has assembled 4537 items and annotated each. He has divided them into sections, such as archival guides and reference items, histories, books, periodicals, manuscripts, and government documents. He has further divided each section, including military and naval units, records in the National Archives, theses, cartographic records and literature. A nine page table of contents and a thirty-six page cross-referenced index further aid the researcher. Any specialist can find some omission in Tutorow’s excellent bibliography. For example, he includes a bibliographical article by Herbert Bolton on materials from Mexican archives relating to the southwest, but omits Bolton’s “Guide to the Materials for American History in the Archives of Mexico,” and also neglects to cite the materials in the Foreign Office relating to the Mexican War period. Conversely, Tutorow did cite the Paullin and Paxon Guide to the London Archives, and he cites several series. However, he does not cite Leland’s Guide to the French Foreign Office Archives, which gives the materials relating to the Mexican War, a good deal of which was calendared by this reviewer and published in his French Activities in California. Tutorow does cite some consular materials from the French archives published in the California Historical Society Quarterly.
Nonetheless, it serves no purpose to mention a few errors in citation or typesetting in so great and valuable a contribution in the field of Mexican history. Tutorow’s book has eight appendices, containing chronologies, naval vessels, Congressional votes, military strength and casualties, tables and graphs on the Mexican War literature, and 21 maps. Dr. Tutorow should be congratulated on his bibliography which should be welcomed eagerly as a necessity by libraries and researchers alike.