Book Review: Racial Borders: Black Soldiers Along the Rio Grande


by James N. Leiker

College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2002. Pp. xiv, 239. Illus., maps, appends., tables, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1585441589

Racial Boundaries takes a look at the black military presence and experience on the Texas-Mexican frontier after the Civil War, performing occupation duty, fighting Indians and bandits, and more, including clashing with Texas Rangers and white racists. 

But, as implied by his title in Racial Borders Prof. Leiker (St. Cloud State) is really investigating racial identity, that is who is -- or was -- a “Native American” or an“Anglo” or“Black” or“Latino,” or some of the many “others” who failed to fit neatly into these categories, such as the Black Seminoles who served as Army scouts or the many people who were of mixed race, in an unruly region of complex and overlapping national, political, cultural, social, and religious, as well as racial “borders,” set against the internal tensions in both Mexico and the United States, in the latter case most notably Reconstruction and its aftermath. 

An important book for anyone with an interest in the frontier army, the black military experience, and the question of race in America.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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