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No. 3 With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (1958)

Américo Paredes

No. 3 With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (1958)

In a spare, laconic style that can read as folksy as Dobie’s, Paredes pulls off an extraordinary literary feat with this tome, writing a folklor-istic study of the story of Gregorio Cortez— a ranch hand who shot a Texas sheriff in 1901—and debuting the practice of incorporating historically informed critical thinking that’s rooted in the experiences and language of South Texas Mexican Americans. Along the way, he exposes the racist underpinnings of Walter Prescott Webb’s characterizations (“a cruel streak in the Mexican nature”), and not even Dobie comes out of his analysis unscathed. It’s a book that opened the way for a host of voices to come.

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