The popular primer to Latino life and culture updated forLatinos represent the fastest growing ethnic population in the United States In an accessible and entertaining question and answer format, this completely revisededition provides the most current perspective on Latino history in the making, including New Mexico governor Bill Richardson s announced candidacy for thepresidential election Ugly Betty the hit ABC TV show based on the Latino telenovela phenomenon The number of Latino players in Major League baseball surpassing thepercent mark Immigration legislation and the battle over the Mexican border The state of Castro s health and what it means for Cuba More than ever, this concise yet comprehensive reference guide is the ideal introduction to the vast and varied history and culture of this multifaceted ethnic group


10 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Latino History: 2008 Edition

  1. Kate Kate says:

    I got to page 330, realized that the endless litany of Famous Latinos continued for 42pages, and gave up I am willing to believe that the author s heart was in the right place I am willing to concede that I know some things now that I did not know before I read this book But this is not a good book, and I do not recommend it.I really, really hated this book Theof it I read, theI hated it, and I will tell you why 1 The book is poorly written The author writes on the leve I got to page 330, realized that the endless litany of Famous Latinos continued for 42pages, and gave up I am willing to believe that the author s heart was in the right place I am willing to concede that I know some things now that I did not know before I read this book But this is not a good book, and I do not recommend it.I really, really hated this book Theof it I read, theI hated it, and I will tell you why 1 The book is poorly written The author writes on the level of an undergraduate student, at best Her prose is full of cliches, and she makes her points clumsily and doesn t support them well Any author who uses the phrase Latin spice unironically in a history sociology book does not deserve to be taken seriously.2 The information is poorly organized Instead of presenting her information sequentially, Novas chose a hackneyed question and answer format that quickly becomes ridiculous Why did it take Cubans so long to gain their independence from Spain, and how was slavery a key factor 170 How reliable are Census 2000 figures when it comes to Americans with roots in Spanish speaking Central and South America 242 These are not questions that any casual reader would ask Ahelpful format might would have been a A brief history of pre contact Central and South America, including the various conquests and migrations How did the major cultures arise What were some differences between them b A history of the European conquest of South and Central Americas, including all the relevant nations yes, Portugal too and the responses of each native culture.c A description of how the various countries were formed this is barely touched on outside of a brief passage on Central America in Chapter 7.d An overview of the wars and regime changes that changed the borders after that.e A chapter on each main region say Mexico Central America, the Carribean Antilles, and South America, or break it up further for greater clarity describing briefly each country therein and how it gets along with its neighbors INCLUDE NON LATINO COUNTRIES they are absolutely relevant when you are discussing the region as a whole.f Since the author clearly set out to write a book about Latinos in the US not Latino History, regardless of the title , go on to the various chapters about the US and its dealings with its Spanish speaking neighbors Try to be neutral, Ms Novas I know it hurts, but try.g By all means, incorporate as much as you can about art, music, food, religion, etc Don t, however, just throw lists of names under relevant subheadings and hope the bold highlights count as organization Do movements Do styles Mention Isabel Allende as you re discussing coups and revolutions, not as a footnote at the very end of the book If you re discussing Diego Rivera, why not mention Frida Kahlo, too She s not even in here, and she s sort of important For that matter, why was Diego Rivera important Who influenced him Who did he influence When you re talking about food, talk about why the various foods are eaten Don t just say Mexicans love tamales, and tamales are delicious Why was the tamale invented Why is corn such a staple of Mexican cooking When and how was it domesticated You re all about how cool the native peoples of South and Central America are were, so please act like it.3 The book is not objective.Throughout most of this work, the author seems barely able to restrain her rancor against the evil Anglos of the United States Outside of Spain, Anglo Americans might as well be the only non Latino people in the world for all Novas mentions anyone else Well, she does mention African slaves insofar as they relate to Latino history, but not much else The chapter on Mexicans and Mexican Americans is basically just a long list of grievances Now, do not mistake I agree that everyone not white has been treated rottenly throughout the course of American history, and I agree that the problem still exists, and that it needs to be solved But This book is called Everything You Need To Know About Latino History Is Novas saying that the only thing people need to know about Mexican Americans is that they ve been the victims of racism The only thing we need to know about Cuban Americans is what s gone down between Cuba and the US since Castro took over In most cases, Novas appears to be completely against American intervention in any part of Latin America Her language in Chapter 5, however, suggests that she s actually in favor of the United States continued embargo of Cuba 208 Novas herself is Cuban, and the country is given a disproportionate amount of coverage in this book the chapter is 54 pages long, compared to the 37 page section on Puerto Ricans, who vastly outnumber Cuban Americans according to Novas own statistics 9 11 The author is so careful to promote Latinos at every opportunity throughout this book that she seems incapable of criticizing them She describes Pancho Villa as a hero after describing him as a robber and mass murderer 83 84 She describes Castro s Cuban rebellion in fairly positive terms, not mentioning the death toll they gathered at mass demonstrations, planted bombs in movie theaters and other public places, and demanded that the dictator leave at once 184 Planting bombs in public places is also called terrorism She is usually careful to say undocumented immigrants rather than illegal immigrants when talking about people who enter the US through irregular channels, but on page 66 takes apparent delight in revealing how a round 1790 Kentucky mountain men began trespassing on Spanish Mexican land in New Mexico to trap beavers, which were coveted for their fur They trapped without licenses, and they traveled where they pleased Sometimes their loot was confiscated, but, no matter, they kept coming back forShe then goes on to gleefully describe how bad these trappers smelled Classy Maybe we should call them undocumented trappers, though, instead of trespassers It s only fair.I m not saying that the author should have been especially harsh on anyone I m saying that when it s clear that she went out of her way to make the Latinos she was writing about look as good as possible in every circumstance, it s impossible to accept her book as an objective resource Everything that she s written is suspect what facts has she left out of her record for fear of creating a negative impression What political leader s record has been white washed to make him her lookinspiring I can say that I ve learned things from reading this book, but I haven t really learned anything I don t think I can rely on anything Novas has told me until I ve seen it confirmed by other sources All she s managed to do here is give me a mental list of things to look up Oddly, the Spanish are painted with a fairly flattering brush, possibly since they make up the majority of surviving Latinos genetic ancestry The opening chapters, which describe how the conquistadores killed almost all of the native peoples of Central and South America, are written almost lightly, and the conquistadores are never really criticized for committing physical and cultural genocide More time is spent describing how La Malinche 54 betrayed her people, for example, than on describing the Spanish priests destruction of the Mayan written record 26 4 The book is insufficient This is not everything anyone needs to know about Latino history It s not even most of what people to know More time and attention is given to Latino singers and baseball players than to politicians, let alone political movements, and most countries are barely discussed except in the context of their relationships with the USA Chapter 7, Americans of Central and South American Descent, lumps together all Latinos who are not of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or Dominican descent in 42 pages Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay are given half of one sentence, on page 281 THAT S ALL.You could argue that this book is just mistitled Maybe what Ms Novas really wanted to write was a history of those Latinos whose descendants eventually made it to the United States Even if that was her goal, though, it was inappropriate not to include at least a little discussion of Brazil, Haiti, Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname, Belize, and other countries in the region that were once non Spanish colonies Even if you define Latino as only meaning of Spanish speaking descent, people from the same region who went through the same basic experiences, and who still interact with Spanish speaking citizens of the Western hemisphere every day, should certainly be included in any book about the history and cultures of those people How can you write about South America and not mention Brazil, the largest country in it How can you write a chapter about the Dominican Republic and not include its modern day relationship with Haiti Novas failure to include any information on these countries in her book strikes me as very lazy I d also like to seecultural information that was skipped over two paragraphs on soccer 355 in the entire book No discussion on how Catholicism influenced the various cultures Passages on music that amount to long lists of names, nationalities, and album titles with a few biographical details in between I ll forgive the absence of reggaeton, since it was very new when this book was first written, but I would have liked to see it in this edition, which was written in 2008 if Ms Novas is trying to promote Latino culture to English speakers from North America, she might try giving us a littleto go on.I m mostly angry about this book because I thought it would be really good I picked it up while browsing in the bookstore, and thought it looked so densely packed with information that I was sure to learn lots of useful things The weaknesses of the book are such that you can t really see them unless you sit down with it and read past the first chapter, and by then of course I d already bought it I d like to see a book on Latin American history and culture that s well written, well organized, clear, objective, and thorough This wasn t it


  2. Bookworm Bookworm says:

    Not quite what I had hoped for To close out Hispanic Heritage Month it seemed like it would be a good time to pick up a book about Latino history Author Novas gives us a look at Latino history also discussing the differences and usage of Hispanic vs Latino in the form of a question and answer instead of just a straightforward history Topics like the role of Spain and other European countries , the indigenous peoples, the formulation of the United States and the relationship and the histor Not quite what I had hoped for To close out Hispanic Heritage Month it seemed like it would be a good time to pick up a book about Latino history Author Novas gives us a look at Latino history also discussing the differences and usage of Hispanic vs Latino in the form of a question and answer instead of just a straightforward history Topics like the role of Spain and other European countries , the indigenous peoples, the formulation of the United States and the relationship and the history Latinos have with the country andare all covered In many ways the book was quite useful There s a section on Puerto Rico which was sadly very timely but also quite informative Questions that answer who is X and what role they played give mini biographies of many historical figures that you may have heard of and many you may have not I m of two minds about whether the QA format was best because it both allowed me to skip questions or sections that didn t interest me Latinos in pop culture wasn t something I wanted to read about but at the same time I might have liked it better if it were just atraditional historical narrative But on the flip side, there s there are plenty of downsides This is the 2008 version and was published in late 2007 So it is out of date there s no mention of the Obama presidency obviously, plus the changes during that time or any events at the very end of the George W Bush presidency are not covered The QA format has its downsides and upsides As other reviews note, people from other Latin American countries are grouped together whereas people from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba each have their own chapters I understand that it may have to do with the relationships of these particular groups of people to the US plus the sheer numbers but it still seemed a little odd I also agree with the other negative reviews the book isn t well written Sometimes the bias is very obvious and it made me a little uncomfortable There are many places where an editor could have been very helpful in hammering out how to make the writing less clunky and flow better instead of sometimes feeling like an information dump Other reviews point to multiple errors of content which makes me hesitate just a bit on whether this was a good primer for me to read I did learn a lot of things and felt this book helped me contextualize stuff I had heard about or was really uninformed on, etc But it seems like it might be a good idea for me to find another book to supplement this one I bought this so I could read it on my own time but I think a library borrow would be better


  3. Mikki Ibarra Mikki Ibarra says:

    I actually loved this book Okay, granted, like some other reviews it was poorly organized, however, it was still informative, fun, and in respectful disagreement with some reviewers that said that the author was misinformed as to some information such as considering Pancho Villa a hero, because this is written by a Latina, the book is appropriately written Pancho Villa is absolutely considered a hero, by many in fact He is also considered a folk saint Certainly the book is not unbiased, but I actually loved this book Okay, granted, like some other reviews it was poorly organized, however, it was still informative, fun, and in respectful disagreement with some reviewers that said that the author was misinformed as to some information such as considering Pancho Villa a hero, because this is written by a Latina, the book is appropriately written Pancho Villa is absolutely considered a hero, by many in fact He is also considered a folk saint Certainly the book is not unbiased, but what is Authors write their opinions and personal feelings into their books all the time, and history is told by those who have biased feelings for the history itself The book was not as thorough as it might have been but it certainly was a good chunk of what greatness Latino history holds for its descendants