Cover image for Mexicanos : a history of Mexicans in the United States
Mexicanos : a history of Mexicans in the United States
Gonzales, Manuel G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 322 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E184.M5 G638 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Mexicanos tells the rich and vibrant story of Mexicans in the United States. Emerging from the ruins of Aztec civilization and from centuries of Spanish contact with indigenous people, Mexican culture followed the Spanish colonial frontier northward and put its distinctive mark on what became the southwestern United States. Shaped by their Indian and Spanish ancestors, deeply influenced by Catholicism, and tempered by an often difficult existence, Mexicans continue to play an important role in U.S. society, even as the dominant Anglo culture strives to assimilate them. Thorough and balanced, this book makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of the Mexican population of the United States, a growing minority who will be a vital presence in 21st-century America.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gonzales, a history professor at Diablo State College, anticipates controversy over his new survey of Mexican American history. Over the past generation, that history has to a large extent been told from the perspective of the Chicano movement, with an emphasis on victimization and resistance. Gonzales aims for greater "objectivity," e.g., he believes that the "Indian and the Spanish are equally important in explaining the rise of Mexican culture," and he seeks to balance accomplishments and oppression. One consequence of this approach is that Gonzales gives more credit to the more conservative groups within the Mexican American community than some activist-scholars would. The other primary purpose of Gonzales' overview is to take advantage of significant new scholarship on a variety of subjects over the past two decades; he incorporates that material gracefully in his narrative of more than two centuries of Mexican American history. Appropriate for libraries serving Chicanos and where interest in ethnic studies is strong. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Exhaustive and destined for controversy, this survey of the historical literature about Mexicans in what has become the United States is also a critique of the Chicano studies field. A specialist in the American Southwest and currently a professor of history at Diablo Valley College, Gonzales (The Hispanic Elite of the Southwest) aims to balance what he views as the prevailing liberal, "good guys versus bad guys" bias that is the legacy of the activists who pioneered the field in the late 1960s. his pugnacious approach sometimes creates a hybrid of straight history and diatribe, most evident when he brandishes verbal sabers at his colleagues, although his argument about the shortcomings of the existing scholarship is largely persuasive. In Gonzales's view, too much of the literature focuses on the historical life of the American Southwest, with Mexico as an almost mythical backdrop to a timeline that ends in the 1970s. In particular, his discussions of WWII and its aftermath, including the migratory surge to the industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, and the successes and misfortunes of the 1990s, help create a more three-dimensional panorama. Gonzales makes an effort to include many lesser-known figures; he also emphasizes the role of Mexicanas. In the end, Gonzales brings a bracing perspective to this epic story. The lack of maps, however, is unfortunate. 20 b&w photos. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

A self-proclaimed nonactivist who nevertheless considers himself a "Chicano historian" because he experienced and was positively influenced by the Chicano movement of the 1960s, Gonzales has written a new synthesis of Mexican-American/Chicano history based on the prodigious scholarship of the last 30 years. In so doing, he offers an alternative to the earlier generation of histories--represented quintessentially by Rodolfo Acu^D na's seminal work Occupied America (CH, Mar'81), which he critiques as ideological and lacking in objectivity and balance. Voicing serious concern with the "internal colony" theoretical model and "victimization" approach to Chicano history exemplified in the works of his predecessors, Gonzales offers instead a "narrative history" (defined here as "who did what when") from Mexico's pre-Conquest past to literally the present day, 1998. Because this is a synthesis of research to date, the author acknowledges certain shortcomings, notably its limited attention to women, i.e., Mexicanas and Chicanas. The text tends to be dry and reads at times like a chronology and listing of events, people, and accomplishments, and at other times like a bibliographic essay summarizing the findings of notable scholars and writers. It will not supplant Occupied America but can serve as a useful companion. Particularly useful select bibliography. E. Hu-DeHart University of Colorado at Boulder

Table of Contents

1 Spaniards and Native American, Prehistory-1521
2 The Spanish Frontier, 1521-1821
3 The Mexican Far North, 1821-1848
4 The American Southwest, 1848-1900
5 The Great Migration, 1900-1930
6 The Depression, 1930-1940
7 The Second World War and Its Aftermath, 1940-1965
8 The Chicano Movement, 1965-1975
9 Pain and Promise, 1975-1998