August 27, 2010
By WILLIAM GRIMES
The New York Times
David J. Weber, whose groundbreaking works on the American Southwest under Spain and Mexico opened new territory for historians, died on Aug. 20 in Gallup, N.M. He was 69 and lived in Dallas and Ramah, N.M.
The cause was complications from multiple myeloma, said his wife, Carol.
When Mr. Weber began writing about the history of the borderlands between present-day Mexico and the United States, the subject was regarded as a backwater.
“United States historians saw the field as part of Latin American history and ignored it,” he wrote in a 2005 essay. “Latin American historians regarded it as belonging to the history of the United States, and likewise gave it short shrift.”
In “The Spanish Frontier in North America” (1992), his most important book, Mr. Weber presented a complex picture of cultural, political and military interaction among the Spanish, the indigenous Indian populations and Anglo settlers, and explored the roots of a Hispanic legacy that defines the American Southwest today. In the process he dismantled the so-called Black Legend, the entrenched myth of Spain as a uniquely rapacious power, bent solely on conquest and plunder. . .
“He is probably the single most important scholar of Spanish borderland history in North America in the second half of the 20th century,” William J. Cronon, a professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “There is no one to compare with him in terms of original scholarship or sweeping synthesis. The French, Spanish and English empires intersected in ways that are crucial to our understanding of the United States as it exists today. David was the great master of the Spanish part of that story.”
Read the full New York Times story.
# # #