Bound in Twine
The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880-1950
Environmental History - Agricultural History - Western History
6 x 9, 334 pp.
28 b&w photos., 3 line art., 10 maps., 4 tables., Notes.
Pub Date: 04/29/2013
Environmental History Series
Price:        $29.95 s

Out of Stock or Out of Print
Price:        $29.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2008 Caroline Bancroft History Award for Best book on Colorado or Western American History, presented by the Western History and Genealogy Department of the Denver Public Library
2007 Theodore Saloutos Memorial Award for Best Book on Agricultural History, presented by the Agricultural History Society

Bound in Twine

The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880-1950

By Sterling Evans

Before the invention of the combine, the binder was an essential harvesting implement that cut grain and bound the stalks in bundles tied with twine that could then be hand-gathered into shocks for threshing. Hundreds of thousands of farmers across the United States and Canada relied on binders and the twine required for the machine’s operation. Implement manufacturers discovered that the best binder twine was made from henequen and sisal—spiny, fibrous plants native to the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

The double dependency that subsequently developed between Mexico and the Great Plains of the United States and Canada affected the agriculture, ecology, and economy of all three nations in ways that have historically been little understood. These interlocking dependencies—identified by author Sterling Evans as the “henequen-wheat complex”—initiated or furthered major ecological, social, and political changes in each of these agricultural regions.

Drawing on extensive archival work as well as the existing secondary literature, Evans has woven an intricate story that will change our understanding of the complex, transnational history of the North American continent.

STERLING EVANS is professor and Louise Welsh Chair in History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica (1999), and editor of The Borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests: Essays on Regional History of the 49th Parallel (2006). His PhD is from the University of Kansas.

What Readers Are Saying:

". . . an authoritative and comprehensive history of transnational dependencies."--Southwestern Historical Quarterly

". . . a solid addition to that corpus of scholarship. . . Evans has produced a very fine book. The research is impressive in its thoroughness, the text is well organized and written, and the material is timely. . . The implications revealed by Evans are thought provoking."--Journal of Southern History

“Evans . . . 'binds together' what may appear as disparate pieces of a historical puzzle and puts each piece in place to create a fascinating scenario . . . Bound in Twine is a must read for those who seek to understand the past and the lessons it offers.”--The Chronicles of Oklahoma

“This solidly researched, clearly written, and cogently argued study will be of interest to agricultural, labor, economic, diplomatic, and environmental historians . . . . This book merits the attention of everyone interested in the history of the North American Great Plains and Mexico.”--Kansas History

Bound in Twine is a must-read for anyone interested in the environmental and economic histories of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and should serve as a model for future transnational studies of this kind.”--East Texas Historical Journal

Bound in Twine is a superb example of the trend . . . With its illumination of the history of this simple farm item, Bound in Twine not only fills a scholarly lacuna but can also serve as a model for other agricultural historians in showing the interconnected and international dimensions of things often taken for granted . . . Should those books be written, Bound in Twine will be the example to which those historians turn . . . This book deserves a wide audience.”--Montana Magazine

“This is a book for historians who appreciate the craft of research and the presentation of dense, insightful detail. . . Evans is a good writer, but he is an even better researcher and scholar who has found a subject that well illustrates the complexity of the global economy, both past and present.”--Business History Review

“His book is clearly written and well organized, full of intriguing and often tragic stories . . . . His story is a fascinating and valuable one . . . . no other book examines this complex story, and it will be of interest to many readers of this journal.”--Western Historical Quarterly

“It is a masterful account of interdependence, from the concomitant rise of henequen production . . . Sterling Evans captures in fine detail a major chapter in American agricultural history in its most appropriate and telling international context, with a keen eye for the multiple registers in which agricultural developments resonate . . . the scale of Evans’s work is large, both in connecting ecologies, economies, societies, and technologies through binder twine, as well as in reminding us of the not-so-distant prehistory of current and pending free trade agreements . . . He also collects telling images and vernacular reflections on both henequen and twine and the binders that went with them. He is quietly attentive to cultural nuance . . . Evans’s book is beautifully illustrated with trade journal images, including a line drawing of an abandoned binder in lush overgrowth next to a wire fence—as loving and ambivalent a depiction of scrap metal as one is ever likely to see.”--American Historical Review

“It is not a pretty picture, but Evan paints it with extraordinary care and skill. Historians of the Yucatán henequen industry, Great Plains agriculture, and transnational commodity chains will thank him for thoughtfully tracing out the surprisingly tight political, social, and economic bonds that for half a century were formed by binder twine.”—National Period

"Bound in Twine is the fascinating story of binder twine. . . Evans provides a wealth of information about this significant transnational relationship."--North Dakota History

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