by Michael Barnes for the Austin American-Statesman
Mexican history is Texas history.
The two subjects are so closely intertwined that it is often hard to see where one ends and the other begins.
Consider our shared 1,254-mile border, which, no matter what people tell you, has always been porous. The historical, cultural, and social contact across the Rio Grande has been continuous — sometimes tragic, sometimes joyous — since long before the Spanish arrived in the 1500s.
To this day, almost anything that happens in Mexico affects what happens in Texas.
My hold on Mexican history, however, is disgracefully tenuous.
This gloomy state of affairs was brightened recently by three new books and a new friend.
I have known historian Karl Schmitt for just a few weeks, but I already consider him a friend-in-the-making. The Austinite, who turned 100 in July, taught Latin American government at the University of Texas for 30 years, which automatically helps illuminate my historical blind spots.
Currently, I’m working on a newspaper profile about Schmitt’s crowded century of living, including his World War II memoirs; he was awarded two Purple Hearts during his European tour of duty.
With an unfailing sense of humor — and more vim and vip at 100 than I can maintain at 67 — Schmitt has helped to push me gently deeper into Mexican history.
Let’s not forget that he was born just two years after the end of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).
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Source: Austin American-Statesman