It was established in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War. But for decades the border between the United States and Mexico was in flux, a flexible barrier that restricted the movement of some people, goods, and animals without impeding others.
Historian Rachel St. John relates the story of the border from both sides in a discussion of her book A Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border on Tuesday, August 6, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
In her sweeping narrative, St. John explores how this boundary changed from a mere line on a map to a clearly marked and heavily-regulated divide between two countries. Focusing on the desert region to the west of the Rio Grande, the book explains the origins of the modern border and places it at the center of a transnational history of expanding capitalism and state power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
St. John shows how government officials, Native American raiders, ranchers, railroad builders, miners, investors, immigrants, and smugglers contributed to the rise of state power on the border and developed strategies to navigate the increasingly regulated landscape.
St. John is associate professor of history at New York University. A Line in the Sand was a finalist for the 2012 Spur Award for Best Western Contemporary Nonfiction sponsored by the Western Writers of America.
This event is co-sponsored by the Kansas City Museum and the Latino Writers Collective.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407.