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Barrio Boy [Paperback]

Ernesto Galarza
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)


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Book Description

August 31, 1991 0268004412 978-0268004415 1
Barrio Boy is the remarkable story of one boy's journey from a Mexican village so small its main street didn't have a name, to the barrio of Sacramento, California, bustling and thriving in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Galarza's saga begins in Jalcocotán, a mountain village just south of where the Gulf of California joins the Pacific. When the turmoil precipitated by the Mexican Revolution begins to escalate, the family leaves their tiny village in search of safety and work in a nearby city. Subsequent moves introduce the boy to the growing turbulence of the Revolution and the uncertainties of city life. He experiences firsthand the difficulties in finding work in a strife-torn nation, securing an education, and keeping a close-knit family intact. When his family finally settles in Sacramento, young Ernesto encounters new experiences and influences that will forever shape his outlook and broaden his horizons.

With vivid imagery and a rare gift for re-creating a child's sense of time and place, Galarza gives an account of the early experiences of his extraordinary life that will continue to delight readers for decades to come.

"Ernesto Galarza has written a long and vivid memoir of his childhood. The only disappointment in the book is that it does not go on for another couple of volumes to recount its author's rare career in redefining America." —The New York Review of Books

"With its suspense, humor, and occasional sadness, Barrio Boy is splendid reading." —American Anthropologist

"[A] personal document where historical self-explanation, philosophical self-analysis, and poetic self-expression merge to tell with irony and humor a social story: an individual's participation in one of the grandest migrations of modern times—the influx of Mexicans into the American Southwest." —Diacritics



Editorial Reviews

Review

“In 1971, at the age of sixty-six, the labour activist, educator and scholar Ernesto Galarza (1905-1984) published Barrio Boy, a memoir of the long migration of his family from a small village in the Sierra Madre to California. Barrio Boy immediately became a classic of Chicano literature, and on its fortieth anniversary has now been published in a new edition with an introduction by the critic, biographer and short-story writer Ilan Stavans.” —Times Literary Supplement 


“Galarza’s book is about growing up—first in Mexico, then in America. To this reader, it is on the same artistic level as Black Boy or Call It Sleep or even Huckleberry Finn. . . . As with Wright and Roth and Twain, we are given a near-perfect tale of rising from absolute poverty to middle-class security, but instead of a woeful recounting, it is filled with the joy of discovery: from living in the lively muddy streets of a small village in Nayarit to surviving, wide-eyed, in the lively and noisy barrios of Sacramento.” —RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities 


“The 40th anniversary edition of Galarza’s book, now a standard text in high school and college classrooms, has become so popular that it has . . . achieved the dubious honor of being the subject of study guides and essays available for purchase online.” —Occidental College
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in Jalcocotán, Nayarit, Mexico, ERNESTO GALARZA (1905–1984) was a civil rights and labor activist, a scholar, and a pioneer during the decades when Mexican Americans had few public advocates. When he was eight, he migrated to Sacramento, California, where he worked as a farm laborer. One of Stanford's first Chicano alumni, Galarza received an M.A. in 1929, and a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 1944. He returned to California where, during the 1950s, he joined the effort to create the first multiracial farm worker union, which set the foundation for the emergence of the United Farm Workers Union of the 1960s.

His books most notably include the 1964 Merchants of Labor, on the exploitation of Mexican contract workers, and the 1971 Barrio Boy. In 1979, Dr. Galarza was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press; 1 edition (August 31, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0268004412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0268004415
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
(16)
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching Mexico April 21, 2003
Format:Paperback
I came on this book by chance and read it in two sittings. As a North American who has lived in Mexico for four years, I found myself connecting with something on every page about Ernesto Galarza's life in Western Mexico until he was six and then following him until he was a teenager in Sacramento. After reading how the Mexican Revolution affected his family's decisions, I want to read more about Mexican history of the period. The book is notable for Galarza's ear and eye as he paints the details of village life, the series of moves in Mexico, and the many decisions the Galarza family made as they moved step by step away from physical danger. The last parts of the book about life in a Sacramento barrio interested me less but still kept me reading.
When I closed the book I went on the internet to learn more about Galarza. I found out he became a leading organizer and scholar constantly involved in Hispanic life but his book would be memorable even if he had led a more commonplace adult life.
On a lighter note, his account of appearing as a first-grader in a Cinco de Mayo performance was so vivid I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Readers who were bored by this book may have been assigned to read it in school. I think Barrio Boy would be an excellent read before before going to Mexico--it's a pageturner that can deepen the Mexican experience for the imaginative traveler.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Historical Document February 1, 2000
By w jones
Format:School & Library Binding
"Barrio Boy" is an important historical document, as it presents through various aspects of local color the Mexican community as it appeared in the early twentieth century. It is also important as a chronicle of the Diaz dictatorship and of the forces that made a family, against bitter odds, migrate to southwestern California.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good example of ethnic minority autobiography October 20, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have used Galarza's book successfully in many classes I have taught. While there is a lot of apparently "needless" detail if you are looking for some kind of exciting "story" or plot, if you actually read the (very short author's) introduction to the book, you'll realize that Galarza's "point" in writing was to establish what it was like to move from a small pueblo in Mexico to a large US city. As such, there are a lot of details which are not necessarily related to "action" per se, but more a sense of trying to understand new environments, new cultural traditions, new ways of living. And how life in the US affected Mexican migrant families in the early 20th century. If you are looking for an account of Mexican immigration & acculturation that is both personal and subtly historic/sociological, then this is a good book for that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barrio Boy as a cultural and historical product February 1, 2000
By w jones
Format:School & Library Binding
"Barrio Boy" is important for its local color accounts of the Mexican community in the early twentieth century. It is also important for its chronicle of the Diaz dictatorship and the forces that made one family migrate to southwestern California. In short, it is an important cultural and historical chronicle.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Immigrant Story April 23, 2002
By A Customer
Format:School & Library Binding
This is one of the most capturing stories I have read of an immigrant coming to the U.S. It was like hearing the stories told time and time again by my parents and grandparents. I have read it twice, once in high school and again in college. Both times Ernesto Galarza was able to draw me into his journey and allowed me to travel along side him, while experiencing a tremendous journey made by thousands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the stereotypical story June 13, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This fascinating, wonderfully told book's title is misleading if it makes you expect the story of a simple Mexican peasant boy with a chicken or two and short horizons. This kid's "barrio" turned out to be a very large part of the world, and the man he became was a man of vision. For me the book was a great reminder that like everyone else's, every immigrant's life is unique in its way, and that "Mexico" and "Mexican-American" can mean many different things. It was also a chance for me to make up for my lifelong, woeful, Anglo-American ignorance of the richness of Mexican history, life, and culture and how changeable the US has been over the decades in how little or much it cared to look out from the Mexican people who've been part of our western state economies since long before there WERE western states! This book is also the beautiful portrait of a young, smart, determined mother, her two devoted brothers and how they basically all died in the course of giving a young boy, Ernesto, a more promising lease on life. This is a great book for older children and any adult who wants to understand the Mexican-American connection. Nutty to Meet You! Dr. Peanut Book #1Take Me With You When You Go
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching Mexico April 21, 2003
Format:Paperback
I came on this book by chance and read it in two sittings. As a North American who has lived in Mexico for four years, I found myself connecting with something on every page about Ernesto Galarza's life in Western Mexico until he was six and then following him until he was a teenager in Sacramento. After reading how the Mexican Revolution affected his family's decisions, I want to read more about Mexican history of the period. The book is notable for Galarza's ear and eye as he paints the details of village life, the series of moves in Mexico, and the many decisions the Galarza family made as they moved step by step away from physical danger. The last parts of the book about life in a Sacramento barrio interested me less but still kept me reading.
When I closed the book I went on the internet to learn more about Galarza. I found out he became a leading organizer and scholar constantly involved in Hispanic life but his book would be memorable even if he had led a more commonplace adult life.
On a lighter note, his account of appearing as a first-grader in a Cinco de Mayo performance was so vivid I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Readers who were bored by this book may have been assigned to read it in school. I think Barrio Boy would be an excellent read before going to Mexico--it's a pageturner that can deepen the Mexican experience for the imaginative traveler.
Comment | 
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