The myth of Texas origin often begins at the Alamo. This story is based on ideology rather than on truth, yet ideology is the foundation for the U.S. American cultural memory that underwrites official
history. The Alamo, as a narrative of national progress, supports the heroic acts that have created the "Lone Star State," a unified front of U.S. American liberty in the face of Mexican
Dean thinks very deeply about what it means to live in the borderlands and to understand, write, recount, and experience the histories.
How Myth Became History explores the formation of national, ethnic, racial, and class identities in the Texas borderlands. Examining Mexican, Mexican American, and Anglo
Texan narratives as competing representations of the period spanning the Texas Declaration of Independence to the Mexican Revolution, John E. Dean traces the creation and development of border
subjects and histories. Dean uses history, historical fiction, postcolonial theory, and U.S.-Mexico border theory to disrupt "official" Euro-American histories.
Dean argues that the
Texas-Mexico borderlands complicate national, ethnic, and racial differences. Dean makes this clear in his discussion of the Mexican Revolution, when many Mexican Americans who saw themselves as
Mexicans fought for competing revolutionary factions in Mexico, while others who saw themselves as U.S. Americans tried to distance themselves from Mexico altogether.
representations of the border, How Myth Became History emphasizes the heterogeneity of border communities and foregrounds narratives that have often been occluded, such as Mexican-Indio
histories. The border, according to Dean, still represents a contested geographical entity that destabilizes ethnic and racial groups. Border dynamics provide critical insight into the vexed status of
the contemporary Texas-Mexico divide and point to broader implications for national and transnational identity.