Paul Cool, Texas A&M University Press, $24.95, Hardcover.
Paul Cool, Texas A&M University Press, $24.95, Hardcover.

Salt has been of immense value to humans for eons, and there’s no shortage of it. Yet Texas managed to generate its own “salt war” in the 1870s. The dried-up lake beds in the Guadalupe Mountains near El Paso had provided the locals—including south-of-the-border Mexicans—with salt for generations, but when the beds were later claimed as restricted private property, several factions took up arms to protect their opposing interests. Some killings only increased the problem. My biggest problem was wallowing through this book. It is over-long and tedious, and the endless cast of individuals and their sometimes-vague involvement in violence and politics often seems unrelated to the subject. I simply found a lot of smoke here, but no fire.

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