From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Most high-school and college survey texts for U.S. history continue an Anglocentric approach, although recent efforts have been made to acknowledge the contribution of non-English and non-European groups to our cultural heritage. A giant swath of current U.S. territory, from California to Florida, was once part of the Spanish Empire, and subsequently much of it was part of the Mexican Republic. Fernandez-Armesto, a professor of history at Notre Dame, provides a useful and absorbing counterperspective. He utilizes a chronological approach beginning with the first Spanish explorers and conquistadors in the sixteenth century and finally analyzes the effects of the current second Hispanic colonization as our Latino population surges. He touches on various aspects of Latin American achievements and contributions to our country. His assertions that the U.S. should be and soon will be viewed as part of the broader Spanish-speaking American continents is unlikely to win broad acceptance but will certainly provoke interesting debate.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Taking on the conventional Anglo-centrism of American history, this superb survey offers a different way of looking at the nation's past. A leading scholar of the Americas at the University of Notre Dame, Fernandez-Armesto (Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration) brilliantly reveals the U.S.'s deep roots in Spanish and Hispanic culture and aspirations. With convincing arguments and deftly told stories, he shows how Spain and Hispanics have influenced American history from well before the British arrived. Likely to be controversial, Fernandez-Armesto's study makes a strong case for the 20th-century being America's " second Hispanic colonization" and argues that "the United States is-and has to be-a Latin American country." Along the way, readers will learn who the real Zorro may have been and how literary magical realism may have originated in the U.S. While not an entirely new way to look at the American past, no one has presented it better or with more zest. A first-person, opinionated, learned, wide-ranging, and delightfully written book, this is responsible revisionist history at its very best and deserves the widest possible attention. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.