The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 424

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Any aficionado of the Spanish Borderlands should enjoy this book, but it is
indispensable for anyone who seeks to understand San Antonio then and now.
Roots of Chicano Politics, 16oo0-940. By Juan G6mez-Quifiones. (Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press, 1994. Pp. xiii+54o. ISBN 0-8263-1431-7.
In this work, Juan G6mez-Quiiiones presents the most comprehensive view of
Chicano politics ever attempted. He sets out with three "intentions": "to recon-
struct . . . the political history of the Mexican people [in] the southwestern
United States"; "to look at ... heterogeneity or diversity as they relate to poli-
tics"; and "to look at ethnicity over a long historical period and . . . discern its
relation to politics" (pp. vii-ix).
What follows is a complex narrative that provides a record, much of it new
even to experienced Chicano historians, of an extremely diverse Mexican com-
munity. If that were all accomplished, the work would be quite use-
ful. But G6mez-Quiiiones goes further in increasing our understanding of the
development of a political realm among Mexicans in American society. This
polity is forged not only by the ruthless treatment of Mexicans by Anglo
Americans but also by the class, regional, gender, and ideological differences
continually in play among Mexicans. The diversity and heterogeneity of the
Mexican community remain as different sectors react politically in different ways
to the confrontation with Anglo America.
G6mez-Quiiiones divides his chapters chronologically but within each defines
the analytical "notions" necessary to understand the time period. In the colonial
period, the notion is one of an economically motivated frontier process moving
from south to north; in the Mexican period, it is one of political practices and
frustration; in the early United States period, subordination and integration are
the primary analytical notions. In the twentieth century, the notions are of eco-
nomic transformation and of crisis in "a vigorous ethnic community" (p. xii).
Each chapter, then, is constructed to analyze the Mexican odyssey in American
society. The work breaks no new ground theoretically, but it is broader and
more analytical than most previous works on this subject.
If one is to point out the book's weaknesses, they would involve the author's
style of citing sources. There are a number of important events for which there
are no endnotes, or the endnotes are lumped together in a way that makes them
difficult to use. Also, G6mez-Quifiones begins a discussion of a particular, seem-
ingly important, chapter in Mexican history and then abandons the topic, leav-
ing no bibliographical information for those wishing to learn more. And the
conluding chapter is subdivided into small, esoteric sections that seem more like
personal reflections than concluding statements. Nonetheless, this is an impor-
tant book, and should serve as a standard work for years to come.


Texas A&M University



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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. ( accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.