Published Works


Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution (2016)

Although a great deal has been written about the Texas Revolution, most of this scholarship has been the work of Texas historians, who have paid little attention to how the conflict was perceived in Mexico and the United States. In this collection of essays, a group of historians who specialize in early nineteenth century Mexico and the Early American republic look at the 1835-36 revolt as a transnational phenomenon. My own contribution, “Imitating the Example of our Forefathers,” argues, in effect, that the Anglo-Americans who took up arms against Mexico were steeped in a political culture framed by the American Revolution. They were, in a very real sense, “historical re-enactors” of that earlier conflict.

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Contested Empire

Major Problems in Texas History (2015)

Now in its second edition, this is a volume of essays and primary source documents which I edited with Cary Wintz. It’s used in a number of Texas history college courses (including my own).

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Major Problems in Texas History

Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World (2010)

My third monograph was a wide-ranging study of American attitudes toward Great Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. After writing a biography of Polk (a diehard Anglophobe), it became pretty clear to me that the United States remained fixated on Great Britain long after the War of 1812. Much like the inhabitants of other settler colonies, Anglo-Americans harbored a deep sense of insecurity toward the imperial parent. This insecurity sometimes manifested itself in a desire to repudiate Great Britain, and at other times to embrace it. In brief, I argue that so many aspects of American life during this period—including arts and letters, popular culture, politics, and such important economic issues as trade and banking—cannot be understood without this conflicted relationship in mind.

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Unfinished Revolution

Manifest Destiny and Empire: Essays in Antebellum American Expansionism (1997)

This is a collection of essays by a group of historians working in the field of nineteenth century American expansion that I edited with my friend and colleague, Chris Morris, for the 30th Annual Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures at UT Arlington. My own contribution to this volume, “Anglophobia and the Quest for National Security,” argues that the drive to annex Texas by U.S. policy-makers was not fueled solely by the desire to expand slavery, but to check the rising power of Great Britain on the North American continent.

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Manifest Destiny and Empire

James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse (1996)

My second book was a short biography of the eleventh president, James K. Polk. Now in its third edition, this book focuses primarily on Polk’s expansionist ambitions. During his four-year term, Polk acquired Texas, the Oregon Territory, California and the American Southwest, increasing the national domain by more than a third.

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James K. Polk

Soldiers of Misfortune: The Somervell and Mier Expeditions (1990)

This was my first book, published way back in 1990. A revised version of my doctoral dissertation, it examines the border conflict between Texas and Mexico in the 1840s. Basically, I argue that the ongoing hostilities with Mexico forced the Texas Republic to abandon independence, and turn once again to annexation to the United States.

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Soldiers Of Misfortune