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Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States

Overview

“A rich and moving chronicle for our very present.” —Julio Ortega, New York Times Book Review
The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been ...

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Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States

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Overview

“A rich and moving chronicle for our very present.” —Julio Ortega, New York Times Book Review
The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been greater.
This absorbing narrative begins with the explorers and conquistadores who planted Spain’s first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain’s expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. During the nineteenth century Anglo-America expands west under the banner of “Manifest Destiny” and consolidates control through war with Mexico. In the Hispanic resurgence that follows, it is the peoples of Latin America who overspread the continent, from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and Boston. The United States clearly has a Hispanic present and future.And here is its Hispanic past, presented with characteristic insight and wit by one of our greatest historians.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Julio Ortega
In Our America, Felipe Fernández-Armesto…recasts the pilgrimage of Hispanics in the United States as a rich and moving chronicle for our very present. His book navigates five centuries of painful documents, atrocious statements and dubious literature to argue that the United States was, from its beginning, as much a Spanish colonial southern enterprise as an unending march westward…The narrative moves easily from panoramic views and exemplary cases to interpretation and reflection.
Publishers Weekly
★ 10/07/2013
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, Fernández-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, Fernández-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.)
Library Journal
Our language, institutions, and current obsession with the royal baby notwithstanding, the United States has not been shaped solely by its British antecedents. Fernández-Armesto, the William P. Reynolds Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, offers a Hispanic perspective on this country that starts with conquistadores, then moves through the colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest, missionary efforts in the Far West, and the vibrant Hispanic presence today.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-08
A welcome corrective to Anglocentric versions of American history, which continue to dominate the textbook market--thanks, at least in some measure, to diversity-doubting Texas. Texas, of course, is a key place in a historical geography that predates Jamestown and Plymouth Rock by a century. Spanish missionaries and conquistadors were busily colonizing what are now California and Florida well before the arrival of other European powers, and as historian Herbert Eugene Bolton noted a century ago, their presence left a deep imprint on the places they settled: "[T]he Southwest," he wrote, "is as Spanish in color and historical background as New England is Puritan, as New York is Dutch, or as New Orleans is French." In a sense, Fernández-Armesto's (History/Univ. of Notre Dame; Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration, 2006, etc.) argument is an extension of Bolton's, though with more political fire behind it and a keen sense of the injustices perpetrated when Hispanic America came under Anglo sway. For that reason, he offers "a history of the United States…slanted toward a Hispanic perspective," one that extends across the southern tier of the United States--embracing in particular Florida, which, the author is quick to remind us, is fast tracking to a minority-majority population in which 85 percent of people under the age of 5 speak some language other than English at home. Fernández-Armesto makes numerous important observations, noting that Spain's New World empire grew so large in part due to competition with those other European powers, and he takes in episodes of history that are largely overlooked--e.g., the El Paso "salt war," in which Anglos and Hispanics fought for control of that critically important resource. The correctives are useful and necessary, and it is easy to imagine that this book will become required reading in ethnic-studies courses--and, with luck, in American history survey courses as well.
Ilan Stavans
“With a lucid, engaging style, [Fernández-Armesto] seeks to understand the continuity between the Spanish colonization and the fight for justice led by the Chicano movement in the sixties and by immigration advocates today…This is an invitation to look at America in full!”
Andrew R. Graybill
“In enviably lyrical prose, Felipe Fernández-Armesto has written a bold and compelling synthesis of our nation’s Hispanic past, from the Spanish arrival in the late fifteenth century to the current and contentious debate over immigration reform. Marshaling famous and forgotten individuals and events, he reminds us that there is much more to America’s story than simply Massachusetts Pilgrims and Virginia Cavaliers.”
Julio Ortega - New York Times Book Review
“A rich and moving chronicle …. Perhaps the first history to make the case for this nation’s becoming a bright Latin American country.”
Hector Tobar - Los Angeles Times
“Exceedingly well-written and engaging.”
The Economist
“Triumphantly rescues Hispanic America from obscurity.”
Janet Napolitano - The Wall Street Journal
“A valuable contribution to those seeking a broader understanding of U.S. history.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393239539
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/20/2014
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 169,456
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, the William P. Reynolds Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration and Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States. He lives in South Bend, Indiana, and London.

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