To the Line of Fire!
Mexican Texans and World War I
Military History - World War I - Mexican American Studies - Texas History - Western History
6 x 9, 218 pp.
10 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 10/05/2009
C. A. Brannen Series
Price:        $29.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2009 Robert A. Calvert Book Prize, presented by Texas A&M University

To the Line of Fire!

Mexican Texans and World War I

By José A. Ramírez

Winner of the 2009 Robert A. Calvert Prize

In January 1917, German foreign minister Arthur Zimmermann sent a telegram to Germany’s Mexican ambassador, authorizing the offer of U.S. territory in exchange for Mexico’s alliance with Germany in the Great War.

After the interception of this communication, U.S. intelligence intensified surveillance of the Mexican American community in Texas and elsewhere, vigilant for signs of subversive activity. Yet, even as this was transpiring, thousands of Tejanos (Mexican Texans) were serving in the American military during the war, with many other citizens of Mexican origin contributing to home front efforts.

As author José A. Ramírez demonstrates in To the Line of Fire!, the events of World War I and its aftermath would decisively transform the Tejano community, as war-hardened veterans returned with new, broadened perspectives. They led their people in opposing prejudice and discrimination, founding several civil rights groups and eventually merging them into the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest surviving Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States.

Ramírez also shows the diversity of reaction to the war on the part of the Tejano community: While some called enthusiastically for full participation in the war effort, others reacted coolly, or only out of fear of reprisal.

Scholarly and general readers in Texas history, military history, and Mexican American studies will be richly rewarded by reading To the Line of Fire!


José A. Ramírez holds a Ph.D. in History from Southern Methodist University. He lives in his native Laredo, where he teaches history at Laredo Community College.

What Readers Are Saying:

"An all-embracing coverage of Mexican-Americans during World War I-written from the perspective of the new military history

-that looks not only at the mobilization of Tejano communities during war time but at the valor of Texas Mexican soldados on the battlefield." -Arnoldo De León, Angelo State University

"Ramirez endeavors to provide a broad historical overview of Texas Mexican Americans' contributions to World War I. He succeeds admirably in this masterful account. . . a welcome addition for scholars who wish to gain a fuller understanding of the Mexican American experience."-Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, director, U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project and associate professor of journalism, University of Texas School of Journalism

"Jose A. Ramirez has produced a wonderful new addition to Mexican-American scholarship. This short book offers enlightenment to readers about the little known experience of Mexican American soldiers from Texas during World War I. . . Through it all he provides a compelling and convincing argument that WWI indeed  contributed mightily to a sense of Americanism among Tejanos and fed into a nascent but growing civil rights movement. . . Drawing from military records, Congressional documents, personal interviews, as well as relevant secondary literature, Ramirez has made an important contribution to our knowledge of the role of Tejanos in WWI. . . Military historians, Mexican American scholars, and all levels of students as well as the general public will benefit from reading this fine work that finally tells us, in depth, about the contributions of Tejanos in the first World War." - Anthony Quiroz, Military History of the West


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