ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
The Proud Peoples: The Heritage and Culture of Spanish-Speaking
Peoples in the United States. By Harold J. Alford. (New York: Da-
vid McKay Company, Inc., 1972. Pp. ix+ 325. Bibliography, index.
This book attempts to show a unity among the Spanish-speaking
peoples of the United States. The common denominators selected by
the author are the Spanish language and the heritage of imperial Spain.
While the narrative is concerned chiefly with those who came north
from Mexico from the 16th century to the present, there are occasional
paragraphs on Puerto Rican migration and a few references to Cuban
emigres who fled Castro's Cuba.
The end result of this study is more synthetic than synthesis. More
than a third of the book is given over to the Spanish colonial period,
with heavy emphasis on Spanish explorations in the borderlands; this
ground has already been covered, and better, by numerous other schol-
ars. Little attempt is made to examine the Indian side of the Indo-
Hispanic heritage. The narrative brushes past most of the 19th century,
ignoring such events as the Mexican- and Spanish-American Wars. It
would seem that the episodic approach used by the author is done more
for dramatic effect than an understanding of historical development.
This makes for interesting reading, but poor history. Conversations are
invented, myths perpetuated, and events switched in time. The author
fails to establish a coherent unity in the Spanish-speaking heritage;
there are simply too many variations among Mexican-Americans, Chi-
canos, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans in culture, language, and history to
claim the Spanish language or the heritage of imperial Spain as an over-
riding unity. The author would have done better to confine his study
The final fourth of the book lists, in alphabetical order, 56 (not 6o,
as the author claims) biographical sketches of people who, in spite
of Anglo prejudice to the Hispanic heritage, "have managed to build
careers while maintaining their own cultural integrity." Whatever cri-
teria the author used in choosing these 56 people defies decoding. In
view of the narrative, Puerto Ricans and Cubans are overrepresented
and Chicano activities are slighted. Some figures receive attention in
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/. Accessed June 18, 2013.