Latinos: A Biography of the People

Latinos: A Biography of the People

4.7 13
by Earl Shorris
     
 

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"Brilliant.... A loving and detailed celebration of a diverse, beautiful and often astounding people."—Laurence Gonzales, Chicago TribuneSee more details below

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"Brilliant.... A loving and detailed celebration of a diverse, beautiful and often astounding people."—Laurence Gonzales, Chicago Tribune

Editorial Reviews

Laurence Gonzales
Brilliant.... A loving and detailed celebration of a diverse, beautiful and often astounding people. —Chicago Tribune
J. Jorge Klor de Alva
[A] powerful, beautifully-written and thoughtful book...likely to remain unequaled in its sweep and profundity for some time to come. —New York Times Book Review
Gerald Volgenau
A smart, perceptive and wonderfully readable book.... Should be required reading for anyone who would hope to understand America. —Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Latinos in the U.S., as Shorris defines them, are a complex of people of varied ancestry--Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Salvadoreans, for example--``in danger of becoming the largest insignificant minority in American history.'' Moving from the barrios of New York City's Spanish Harlem and East Los Angeles to Miami's Cuban community to Southern farms on which migrant workers endure abominable, Third World conditions to El Paso where Hispanics have launched an assault on the bastions of Anglo economic power, Shorris gives eloquent voice and texture to Latino dreams, history, culture and aspirations . His montage of social analysis, reportage, folkways and oral history is a magnificent portrait of diverse people struggling against stereotyping, racism, exploitation and the racismo which causes one Latino group to demean another. A contributing editor of Harper's , himself married to a Latina, Shorris ( Power Sits at Another Table ) gauges the relentless pressure on Latinos to conform and their resistance to the melting pot. He looks at upwardly mobile professionals, entrepreneurs, exploiters and civil servants; activists and politicians attempting to ``draw their people out of the refuge of metaphysics and family''; gang members in revolt and workers earning 18 cents per hour. He assesses innovative bilingual education programs, traces the Latino influence on American English, cuisine, films and music, and charts the brutal daily war between immigration agents and illegal border-crossers, a war that leaves hundreds of nameless corpses each year. Exploring the widening rift between the Roman Catholic Church and the Latino community, Shorris visits a curandero (healer) and delves into Mexican American Santeria, a spiritistic folk religion. He incisively critiques contemporary Latino writers and painters, and profiles such figures as Cesar Chavez, Paul Rodriguez, Roberto Clemente, exiled Cuban poet Jorge Valls and Jaime Inclan, director of a family therapy clinic on Manhattan's Lower East Side. A definitive, energizing, brilliantly searching group portrait. QPB main selection; BOMC selection; $75,000 paperback floor; author tour. (Oct.) .
Library Journal
Using an oral storytelling style and chapter vignettes, Shorris attempts to cover the history and the current condition of all the North American Latinos, who are identified as descendants of the Spanish conquest of the New World. Beginning with Columbus's subjugation of the native populations in the West Indies, Shorris, a contributing editor of Harper's magazine, recounts the struggle of the Latino people (Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, etc.) against Anglo racism, language barriers, and economic and political discrimination. He also offers an unflinching look at the condition of Latinos in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. Shorris's meandering style makes his book a difficult tool to use academically, however, and the abundance of detail at times overwhelms his message. Still, this is a worthy purchase for urban libraries or any library serving any size Latino population.-- Sharon Roman, Carroll Cty. P.L., Westminster, Md.
Kirkus Reviews
Personal, impassioned overview of the fastest growing minority in the US. Shorris, a social critic (Jews Without Mercy, 1982, etc.) and novelist (Under the Fifth Sun, 1980, etc.), concentrates on Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban-Americans, mixing facts, observation, history, analysis, love, and outrage. Shorris (who grew up in a mostly Mexican-American El Paso neighborhood, married a Latina, and acknowledges his personal and political liberal bias) admits that the very term "Latino" is problematic, blurring racial, cultural, and historical diversity. To overcome this inherent difficulty, he tends to focus on individual lives and also occasionally, perhaps necessarily, to bog down in qualifiers and sensitivity. The result is a book that sometimes stumbles but that scores high for impact, scope, and heart: Shorris celebrates Latino achievements; visits sweatshops (where some workers earn 18› an hour), classrooms, illegal border- crossings, and detention camps; undermines stereotypes (e.g., by portraying Cubans who are neither right-wingers nor criminals); critiques earlier influential analyses that focused on the so- called "culture of poverty"; and provides a new schematic framework for understanding the Latino as immigrant. While he blames both minority and majority societies, as well as random historical factors, for why Latinos have achieved little political and economic power here, Shorris offers an account of the effects of colonialism on Puerto Ricans and of the brutal oppression of Mexican-Americans that has eye-opening power: The systematic exploitation of Latinos—centuries-old and still thriving—has rarely been so thoroughly discussed in a majorforum. Wide-ranging, groundbreaking, opinionated, and very important.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393321906
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
540
Sales rank:
941,912
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)

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