The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 275
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idea that Spaniards are "uniquely cruel, bigoted, tyrannical, obscurantist,
lazy, fanatical, greedy, and treacherous" (p. I1). Powell traces the rise of
the Black Legend in Italy, Germany, France, and among European Jews.
He shows how the Legend spread rapidly after 1560 in the form of English
and Dutch anti-Spanish propaganda. The Enlightenment, Powell argues,
gave the Legend intellectual respectability, removing it from the realm of
propaganda, and it was ultimately adopted by independence leaders in early
nineteenth-century Latin America as a form of cultural matricide. In the
nineteenth century, anti-Hispanic sentiments also became widespread in the
At first glance this may seem a curious book to review in a journal de-
voted to the history of the southwestern United States. Implicit in Powell's
study, however, is the notion that the Black Legend is an important source
of Anglo-American antipathy toward Mexicans and Mexican Americans,
which has been and continues to be prevalent in the Southwest. Powell also
explains that anti-Spanish stereotypes have contributed to our State Depart-
ment's "misguided" policy toward Latin America-"a spasm of fumbling
which we call Latin American policy" (p. I I2). United States-Latin Amer-
ican relations have always held special significance for southwesterners liv-
ing near the Mexican border.
Powell's thoughtful, informal, and frequently outspoken essays add to a
growing body of recent literature on the Black Legend. (The year I97I
also saw the publication of The Black Legend: Anti-Spanish Attitudes in
the Old World and the New, edited by Charles Gibson; The Black Legend
in England: The Development of Anti-Spanish Sentiment, 1558-1660, by
William S. Maltby; and an interesting exchange of views between professors
Lewis Hanke and Benjamin Keen in the Hispanic American Historical
Review.) Perhaps Powell's most interesting contribution to this literature is
his convincing and lively discussion of how hispanophobia lives on in con-
temporary American literature, cinema, and history texts. In describing how
Americans' views of the hispanic world have been and continue to be dis-
torted, Powell attempts to set the record straight by presenting an alterna-
tive and more balanced view of such questions as the nature of the Spanish
conquest of the New World and the Inquisition. Sometimes he succeeds;
but when he attempts to explain more recent history, his own oversimplifi-
cations and biases produce distortions of their own. But then, Powell gives
the reader fair warning about bias when he observes that history is "far
more of an art than a science" (p. 95)
California State University, San Diego
DAVID J. WEBER
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/309/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.