El Norte

The author started off telling us that we overlook the big impact of the Spanish in America, which is true. She then elides to “the Americas,” implying that the Americas were Spanish. As an old Brazil lover, I think more attention should have been paid to Portuguese. The author mentions Brazil only to not mention it again. A history of South America that leaves out Brazil is seriously incomplete. As my Ambassador used to say, “South America is a Portuguese dominated continent with a periphery of Spanish, English, Dutch & French. Of course, that is also a bit of an exaggeration, but Brazil is indeed about half the population of South America (which does not include Central America and Mexico, BTW). In fairness, however, the book is not really about the Americas. It is mostly about Spanish exploration, conquest and administration in what became Mexico and the USA. In this part she does a competent job of telling the history, but I don’t believe it is as “unknown” as she implies. I recall that we learned the history of the Spanish in America in HS history class. The names of the conquistadors and explorers are familiar to a reasonably educated Anglo-American, at least to the extent that we know history at all.

I think the author missed making stronger an important point that she wanted to make. Spanish culture and heritage are big parts of USAs heritage and culture. she wanted to tell the Spanish story so much that she missed the melding of culture. Anglo-American cowboy culture, so much or our heritage, is largely rooted in Spanish-Mexican soil, for example. I think she also underestimates the power of assimilation and merging. Cultures merge and immigrants from Spanish cultures are merging into mainstream America. The process usually takes three generations in the USA. The reason we have not seen this happen in the Spanish-speaking community is that for a long time the community was localized.

The book was interesting and there were certainly details of history that I learned from it. I think it lacked a theme, however. Maybe I was looking for the wrong things. I thought it would be a book about the history of Spanish influence in the USA and about Spanish influence today. That was one of the themes, but it got lost a little, in the first part in the simple telling of the history and in the last part in the telling of stories. The book is worth reading. It could have been better.

audible.com   El Norte Check out this great listen on Audible.com. Because of our shared English language, as well as the celebrated origin tales of the Mayflower and the rebellion of the British colonies, the United States has prized its Anglo heritage above all others. However, as Carrie Gibson explains with great dep…..     1