From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
As the largest contingent of the fastest growing minority population in the U.S., Mexican immigrants promise to put an indelible stamp on American culture and notions of race and ethnicity. Mexican scholar Rodriguez examines historical and social factors that have caused the current level of Mexican migration to the U.S. and the greatest contribution of Mexicans, the concept of mestizaje, or racial and cultural synthesis. Mexico's history of conquest and intermixing with the indigenous people has produced a greater tolerance for mixing than has the U.S. history of slavery and stricter definitions of race. Moreover, the evolution of attitudes of Mexican immigrants themselves from desire to be counted as white to advocacy for a broader classification or none at all adds to the more nuanced view of ethnic identity. Rodriguez traces changes in Mexican immigration, fueled by politics and economics in the U.S. and Mexico, and the growing Chicano movement. Rodriguez explores what effect this mestizaje, earned after a long history, though not so tortured as that of the U.S., will have on American culture, racial identity, and minority politics.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2007 Booklist
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Rodriguez (New America Foundation) has written a concise yet comprehensive insightful history of Mexican Americans, much more extensive than the oversimplified immigration issue that television viewers are exposed to daily. The author begins with Spanish migration to the Americas and subsequent encounter with Natives in Yucatan in 1519, and continues to today's Mexican American population in the US. The book is a serious work, yet not dry history. Anecdotal evidence along with related sources gives the book a distinctly rich character. Rodriguez presents Mexican Americans, too often ignored or erroneously portrayed, in a more positive light. The author points to centuries of acculturation and assimilation. This long experience and a broader, more open, perspective toward race and color should help Americans begin to better understand themselves. The timely topic of race, color, and gender that has been infused into this year's presidential campaign is long overdue as a national discussion. This book is valuable for such a conversation. It includes a treasure trove of footnoted sources for more ambitious readers to discover supplementary materials. Rodriguez undertakes an ambitious task and succeeds brilliantly. From beginning to conclusion, the book is thought-provoking and a delight to read. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. J. E. Garza University of Texas--Pan American