A practical, comprehensive guide to the history and culture of American Latinos, written in a lively prose. Educator and author (Hispanics in the U.S. Through 1865; Hispanics in U.S. History: 1865 to the Present, both 1989) de Varona has compiled historical and cultural data on the last 500 years of Hispanic contributions to American culture. Making up 10 percent of the US population, it is anticipated that in another 50 years Latinos will comprise more than a fifth of our population, surpassing African-Americans as the nation's largest minority. Nonetheless, Latino contributions to our country have generally been overlooked by historians and by the authors of school texts. De Varona notes, for example, that during both world wars, Latinos, despite being victims of acute discrimination, volunteered for the armed forces in a higher percentage than any other ethnic group in our country and ``earned disproportionately more Medals of Honor than any other group as well.'' Our histories have tended to ignore not only the contributions of Latinos to American culture, but the intense discrimination faced by Hispanics in America. When Americans sought scapegoats for their ills during hard times, Mexican immigrants proved easy targets. Many Anglos in the 1940s, for example, felt that they had the right to assault anyone dressed in the ``zoot suits'' that had become identified with Mexican- American youth because they believed that young Latinos were benefiting from the resurgent American economy during WW II without being sufficiently committed to the war effort. Beyond its concise history, this book features lists such as record of Hispanic cultural celebrations, common English words derived from Spanish, and a bibliography of literary works by writers of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban descent. Enlightening and often entertaining, Latino Literacy is a necessary addition to America's multicultural library. In addition to its popular appeal to Latinos, it should prove an invaluable resource for all educators.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8050-3858-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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