David Weber, Southwest Expert, Dies at 69

Historians in the News

David J. Weber, whose groundbreaking works on the American Southwest under Spain and Mexico opened new territory for historians, died on Aug. 20 in Gallup, N.M. He was 69 and lived in Dallas and Ramah, N.M.

The cause was complications from multiple myeloma, said his wife, Carol.

When Mr. Weber began writing about the history of the borderlands between present-day Mexico and the United States, the subject was regarded as a backwater.

“United States historians saw the field as part of Latin American history and ignored it,” he wrote in a 2005 essay. “Latin American historians regarded it as belonging to the history of the United States, and likewise gave it short shrift.”

In “The Spanish Frontier in North America” (1992), his most important book, Mr. Weber presented a complex picture of cultural, political and military interaction among the Spanish, the indigenous Indian populations and Anglo settlers, and explored the roots of a Hispanic legacy that defines the American Southwest today. In the process he dismantled the so-called Black Legend, the entrenched myth of Spain as a uniquely rapacious power, bent solely on conquest and plunder....
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Caroline Hill - 9/1/2010

He was a wonderful man as well as a wonderful historian. He has battled this terrible disease for several years. His death is a major loss to the profession.