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Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream

by Jeff Biggers

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-56858-702-8
Publisher: Nation Books

Investigation of Arizona politicians who Biggers (Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, 2010, etc.) believes are anti-immigration, partly because of racism and partly because they are beholden to corporate agendas.

The author grew up in Arizona, noticing early in life that political and corporate leaders built on the narrative of the Wild West to thumb their noses at government intervention on matters of civil rights. Gov. Janice Brewer is one of many power brokers criticized by Biggers as a fearmonger and liar. Although the author’s language is sometimes intemperate, his extensive evidence gives the book authenticity. Biggers worries that other state legislators and governors will push inhumane and perhaps illegal legislation to drive immigrants back to Mexico. Although most of the book focuses on the past decade, the author is masterful at showing how the past is prologue. At one stage, numerous Arizonans would have rejected statehood because they worried the federal government would force them to combine with New Mexico, a territory populated by Hispanics. As he guides readers through Arizona's unusual path to settlement and then statehood, Biggers explains how carpetbaggers from the East Coast and other distant locales moved to Arizona to avoid winter weather and the melting-pot populations. As the ambitious carpetbaggers gained political power, often as Republican Party partisans, they sought a punitive rather than empathetic government. Biggers champions activists such as Cesar Chavez, who organized exploited immigrant laborers.

A timely book, especially with immigration policy playing a major role in the upcoming presidential campaign.