Books and Movies Reviews

Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America

Mexicans may have had one of the longest relationships with the United States of all nationalities and immigrated to this country in the largest numbers, but that by no means equates to how they have been treated over the centuries. Latinos account for the largest wave of immigration in this country, surpassing the 14.4 million Europeans arriving from 1901 to 1920, and accounting for more than 50 percent of immigration since 1960. Growing over seven times as fast as the rest of the nation during the 1980s, Latinos are expected to become the largest minority group in the country by the year 2010. Yet, from the very beginning, as seen in the book Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America by Juan Gonzalez, they have been treated as second-class citizens in more ways than one.
The overriding theme of the book is America's imperialistic power over its years since forming as a nation. In thefirst section, Gonzalez portrays the history of the colonial period, called "Raices," or "Roots" in English, which is much different than the history read in most U.S. history books. It clearly shows that the majority of American political leaders in the early 19th century eyed Spain's neighboring colonies as free for the taking. It had no interest in the future of these revolutionary societies, even if they were following the example set by the U.S. As noted by Gonzalez, his goal is (p. xv) is to give "an integrated historical look at both Latin America and Latinos in the United States-how both contributed to and were affected by… American ideals and American reality." "…the book is aimed at the general reader who wishes to deepen his or her understanding about Hispanics…" (p. xvi).
Gonzales argues that Latin American immigration and the accompanying Latino presence in the U.S. are significantly different from European immigration history in at least three ways: 1) Latino immigrati…


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