the William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction
Book on Southwestern America Published in 2004
The River Has Never Divided Us:
A Border History of La Junta de los Rios
University of Texas Press, 2004
Honoring Jefferson Morgenthaler
quite the United States and not quite Mexico, La
Junta de los Rios straddles the border between Texas
and Chihuahua, occupying the basin formed by the
conjunction of the Rio Grande and the Rio Conchos.
It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited
settlements in the Chihuahuan Desert, ranking in age
and dignity with the Anasazi pueblos of New Mexico.
In the first comprehensive history of the region,
Jefferson Morgenthaler traces the history of La
Junta de los Rios from the formation of the
Mexico-Texas border in the mid-19th century to the
1997 ambush shooting of teenage goatherd Esquiel
Hernandez by U.S. Marines performing drug
interdiction in El Polvo, Texas. "Though it is
scores of miles from a major highway, I found
natives, soldiers, rebels, bandidos, heroes,
scoundrels, drug lords, scalp hunters, medal
winners, and mystics," writes Morgenthaler. "I found
love, tragedy, struggle, and stories that have never
been told." In telling the turbulent history of this
remote valley oasis, he examines the consequences of
a national border running through a community older
than the invisible line that divides it.
judges have called The River Has Never Divided Us
"compelling," " a tour de force," and "relentless
tale-spinning, ironic and mordant."
Clements Book Prize 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.