cover image El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America

Carrie Gibson. Atlantic Monthly, $30 (576p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2702-0

Historian Gibson (Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day) provides a sweeping and accessible survey of the Hispanic history of the U.S. that illuminates the integral impact of the Spanish and their descendants on the U.S.’s social and cultural development. In contrast to the widespread downplaying of this history in favor of Anglo-American perspectives, Gibson recognizes the country as “part of a larger Latin American community.” Gibson uses this inventive and appealing lens to guide readers chronologically from the initial European incursions into the Western hemisphere to the present day. Focusing primarily on Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, the main topics covered are Spanish colonization (often violent) and evangelizing (which was “bound up with the colonization project for Spain and Portugal from the beginning”), the creation of Latin American republics, U.S. territorial expansion, immigration, challenges faced by Latin Americans in the U.S. (including housing discrimination, immigration raids, and prejudiced treatment in the military), and how Hispanic racial, ethnic, and cultural identities are interpreted in the Americas). Though it doesn’t present new research, this unusual and insightful work provides a welcome and thought-provoking angle on the country’s history, and should be widely appreciated. (Feb.)