Weber-Clements Book Prize

Three Roads to Magdalena: Coming of Age in a Southwest Borderland, 1890-1990

David Wallace Adams: Winner of the 2016 Weber-Clements Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America

Seating is limited!  To register, please click here, email or call 214-768-3684. 
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 |  The Texana Room, Fondren Library Center, 6404 Hilltop Lane   |  5:00 reception followed by 5:30 pm award ceremony, lecture and book signing  

Magdalena, New Mexico was once booming frontier town where Navajo, Anglo, and Hispanic people have lived in shifting, sometimes separate, sometimes overlapping worlds for well over a hundred years. In Three Roads to Magdalena, David Wallace Adams maps their stories in a work that captures the intimate, complex history of growing up in a Southwest borderland. At the intersection of memory, myth, and history, his book asks what it was like to be a child in a land of ethnic and cultural boundaries.  A unique blend of oral, social, and childhood history, Three Roads to Magdalena (University Press of Kansas, 2016) is a rare living document of conflict and accommodation across ethnic boundaries in our ever-evolving multicultural society.

David Wallace Adams is professor emeritus at the Cleveland State University. He is the author of Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–-1928, also from Kansas. Adams was a Clements Center fellow in 2005-2006.

The judging committee wrote:

Magdalena is a small village in a rural and relatively impoverished corner of New Mexico where Hispanics, Anglos, and Navajos have lived around one another for more than a century. It’s an exquisitely chosen place to study identity. Borderlands historians have long been preoccupied with identity, and therefore with the stories people tell about who they are, who they aren’t, and where they belong. Adams’ launches his book with a simple but revelatory insight: that the most important stories begin at the beginning, with childhood. 

Three Roads to Magdalena draws upon a precious trove of interviews to explain what it was like growing up in this multicultural borderland during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From the hazy, tactile memories of early childhood through the hot and precise recollections of adolescent adventures, people across the region shared moving and intimate stories of the kind historians are seldom privileged enough to hear. Balancing critical distance with insight, humor, and compassion, Adams has woven these recollections together into a book that is wise, challenging, and absorbing. Ingeniously researched and beautifully written, Three Roads to Magdalena opens a unique and enduring window into borderlands history.

The $2,500 Weber-Clements Book Prize, administered by the Western History Association, honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book, including biography, on any aspect of Southwestern life, past or present. The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is part of SMU's Dedman College and affiliated with the Department of History. It was created to promote research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.  

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