Beginning with Spanish exploration in the New World, the author proposes to trace the origins and history of ""the Spanish-speaking people"" in the U.S., but there is no particular emphasis on the meetings and minglings with the Indians which began Spanish-American history, only a standard adventure-story account of De Soto, Coronado, Ponce de Leon, et al. The book improves considerably as settlements spread in New Mexico, Florida, California: sectional contrasts, economic vectors, and social structures are sketched in a clear, animated way. The flow of Spanish-speaking labor is described from the Gold Rush to the Puerto Ricans who came in during World War I to the 1920's reclamation of Southwestern brushland and the growth of ""labor smuggling"" to the upheavals of the Depression with agricultural strikes and bracero bitterness. After the war (when there were riots between Anglo sailors and soldiers and ""zoot suit"" Hispanics) the book slides into a mere gallery of significant individuals like Cesar Chavez and Reies Tijerina. Concluding that ""the melting pot"" is now ""a boiling pot,"" Alford appends a who's who of 50 Spanish-speakers from folk saints and 18th-century explorers to Jose Greco, a drugstore owner, and Senator Dennis Chavez, whose legislative record is charitably brushed over. Alford's praise of both militancy and conventional ""making it"" predicates a substantive ethnic audience which will benefit most from the social history of the middle chapters.