Bordertown - Johnson, Benjamin Heber; Gusky, Jeffrey; Urrea, Luis Alberto - Yale University Press

Art and Architecture
Social Science

Series Information
The Lamar Series in Western History


The Odyssey of an American Place

  • Benjamin H. Johnson and Jeffrey Gusky; Foreword by Luis Alberto Urrea
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Winner of the 2008 Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Reference work sponsored by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.

Mexico and America have met for eight generations on their shared border. In this compelling book, photographer Jeffrey Gusky and historian Benjamin Johnson capture this encounter through their mesmerizing portrayal of Roma, Texas.


European culture left its mark here, but it was brought by mixed-race, Spanish-speaking pioneers who practiced Muslim irrigation techniques and believed that they were descended from Jews. Triumphant American armies made this region part of the United States, but the descendants of those they conquered have fought in every American conflict from the Civil War to Iraq. Racial strife divided this land, but slaves gained freedom by fleeing south to Mexico and Hispanics reacquired wealth and power by buying out Anglos. Although today the area is one of the poorest in the United States, the fortune that founded Citibank was made here and the town has inspired such authors as John Steinbeck and Larry McMurtry.


In a time when the border is a source of controversy and division, Johnsonís unexpected stories and Guskyís haunting photographs demonstrate how deeply the story of the border is also the story of America itself.

Benjamin Heber Johnson is associate professor, Department of History, Southern Methodist University. He is the author of Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans into Americans, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Dallas. Jeffrey Gusky is an emergency physician, a fine art photographer, and a documentary film producer. He is the author of a previous art photography book, Silent Places: Landscapes of Jewish Life & Loss in Eastern Europe. He lives in Dallas.