At first glance, the Pleasant Valley War that occurred in central Arizona from 1881 to 1892 represents an archetypal frontier conflict of that era. In this engaging book, Eduardo Obregón Pagán recovers this history from familiar western tropes and popular mythmaking with a thoroughly [End Page 245] researched study that draws theoretical inspiration from recent scholarship on the North American borderlands. In particular, the author acknowledges the influence of Ned Blackhawk’s acclaimed book Violence over the Land (Harvard University Press, 2006) for providing a framework for understanding how conflicts that appear to stem from personal feuds tie peoples and communities to “imperial” networks. Pleasant Valley’s setting in the historic “theft corridor” of trading and raiding that extended from northern Mexican mines and presidios across the Apache lands to the Great Basin is especially significant as a background to this history. Pagán also highlights the diverse origins of the settlers who arrived in the region during the 1870s, including Protestants and Mormons, the Blevins Gang of Texas, and the Tewkesbury boys, a prominent mixed white-Native American family from California who were central participants in the war.
Starling, Jamie. Review of Valley of the Guns: The Pleasant Valley War and the Trauma of Violence, by Eduardo Obregón Pagán. Southwestern Historical Quarterly 123, no. 2 (2019): 245-247. doi:10.1353/swh.2019.0091.
Southwestern Historical Quarterly