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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America through a glass darkly
5 STARS. Mr. Rodriguez is an excellent social essayist of America's many converging streams.
I have just finished reading Richard Rodriguez's new book "Brown: The Last Discovery of America" and I am contemplating how long I should wait before beginning it again. Here is a writer worth many readings. His subject and approach invite numerous visits, viewings from...
Published on April 2, 2002 by Moises Hernandez

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Test of Will
Richard Rodriguez is making no friends in his new book "Brown." He discusses topics which reveal the aspects of our culture which we are most frightened to acknowledge, and does so at level which intentionally makes us wonder what we paid our college tuition to learn. He litters his arguments with historical and culture allusions, purposefully overwhelming the reader...
Published on November 7, 2005 by Gregg Kennedy


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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America through a glass darkly, April 2, 2002
5 STARS. Mr. Rodriguez is an excellent social essayist of America's many converging streams.
I have just finished reading Richard Rodriguez's new book "Brown: The Last Discovery of America" and I am contemplating how long I should wait before beginning it again. Here is a writer worth many readings. His subject and approach invite numerous visits, viewings from varied moods and perspectives.
In this (his third book) Mr. Rodrigez's takes as his theme the notion of brown as intermingled, mixed, impure and argues that it is the inevitable conclusion of America. Along the way he gives us his reading (a brown reading?) of Richard Nixon, Alexis de Tocqueville, Ben Franklin, the Latin American migration, the persistance of Puritanism, sexual politics, cubism, Melcolm X, Catholism, public space, and the American insistance on authenticy against its impulse for the theatrical. Many of these are themes Mr. Rodriguez has covered before. Here he revisits some familiar themes through the lense of brownness, turning them over by a different light, holding them up to a different horizon. He is a writer of a fugue like repetition, striking humor in one note and discomfort in the next, leaving the reader to follow the argument off the page. He is a writer who does not condescend to his readers with trite resolutions or comforting reassurances. His style is personal and political, contemplative and engaging. He is an excellent stylist of a kind rarely seen on bookshelves today.
This is not an easy read. Don't buy this book if you're looking for a quick and fun read. It is a provocative and perplexing tune Mr. Rodriguez carries. He points in directions that he leaves uncharted, exposes personal wounds that he leaves unmended. He invites us into an uncomfortable space of hanging questions.
Thoses who have read Mr. Rodrigez before will probably enjoy this newest work (assuming you enjoyed his other work). New readers may find him challanging (some friends have found his style dense or obscure). But if you are loking for an intelligent and engaging converstaion on the meaning of what America is becoming and why undermining of America's very notion of race is inevitable, then I strongly urge you to read this terrific book. "Reader, meet Mr. Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez, your interlocutor."
Moises Hernandez ...
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's A Brown World, June 11, 2002
By 
Bruce Crocker "agnostictrickster" (Whittier, California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Richard Rodriguez's Brown is a stream of consciousness journey through brown as metaphor for the very mixed world we are headed towards. As a man of mixed culture [gay, Catholic, American, Mexican descent, indian, writer, etc.], Rodriguez is the perfect person to take us on this brown journey. I know of Rodriguez's writings from the Sunday Los Angeles Times and I read this book on the strength of the newspaper pieces. It was a thought provoking read that had my head swirling and I only got bogged down in chapter 2. Be ready to hit the dictionary and the encyclopedia. I live in a brown neighborhood in Whittier, California, I teach at a brown high school in La Habra, California, and even though my students would label me Anglo [I have reddish hair and spotted skin if anyone cares], given my very eclectic upbringing and interesting ancestry, I hope that I fit in well to the brown world around me. I recommend that you read this book and let Richard Rodriguez get into your head.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brown Lightnin', June 5, 2002
By 
D. Tippetts "Sugarpop" (American Fork, Utah United States) - See all my reviews
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Strking a white guy from Montana living in the purgatory of the outlands of the West, this book understates its own goals - as it should. And overfulfills its promise. It is shewd, literate, thoughful, and filled with bright insights into our common condition. Surprise and delight somwhere on every page. A dead-on counter to the prevailing post-civil rights race consiousness that prevails in the United States. Marred only by occasional obscurity of reference, and ponderous paragraph.
In another 500 years, we will all be medium brown, and will have to find something else to fight about.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great American Melded Pot, November 19, 2002
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Anyone that things that race relations as an issue has fallen by the wayside or is somehow is a moot point will be enlightened by the eloquent, poetic point of view brought forth by Richard Rodriguez' latest book. Rodriguez does not forgo the often oversimplistic Black-White issue but suggests that they were always a hybrid issue of 'Brown'. America as a dynamic hotbed of ever-Westward expansion; and once the West was won of expansion of a more global nature. Selling the 'American Dream' in an effort to conquer and re-conquer in a never-ending quest for collective conciousness. Rodriguez suggests that the issue of race is not a physical one, but rather how one responds to this conciousness brought about by assimilation.
His anecdotes brings things down to a very personal level without which 'Brown' would come across as speculative and academic. Rodriguez paces things so well and his words are so graceful that one is moved not only by his observations and experiences, but also their self-awareness in a historical context.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brown as A Racial Category -- Not according to Rodrigez, April 28, 2002
By 
Richard Rodrigues provides an excellent case on the creation of a somewhat mythical category of race that has come into common usage. While race is generally reserved for the major blood lines associated with the continents of the world, here in the United States we have made a complete mish-mash of our categorizations of race and ethnicity. Anyone who has recently filled out a form has likely been surveyed on the Race. We are provided with a check list. It appears to work it's way out of a very "white" (or more properly Caucasian" world-view.

While we represent ourselves to be a melting pot and were founded on the principles of equality and freedom, we memers of the U.S. society too often responsible for efforts to continue to divide and categorize.

Richard Rodriguez offers a clear argument on the fictive notions of "brown" and "latino" and uses his own personal life examples to illustrate his case.

I have found Rodriguez writing to be much more engaging in his past two works. While he has always had a tendency to try to sound overly erudite and this has been an onstacle to enjoying his intelligent observations and beliefs about life, I found the writing in Brown to be too often strained with the "intellectualizations" that we often associate with tedious academic texts. I encourage Richard Rodriguez to allow his writing to stand on its own without the artifice of the scholarly tone. More than in his previous works, I found this to be a major distraction to his writing. Mr. Rodriguez is a brilliant man who is well-educated and articulate. He is also a man of passion and controversy. His best writing shines through the personal stories he tells.

A very important contribution to the ongoing debates we continue to wage on cultures, race and ethnicity. Highly recommended.

James J. Maloney
Saint Paul, Minnesota USA
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Test of Will, November 7, 2005
This review is from: Brown: The Last Discovery of America (Paperback)
Richard Rodriguez is making no friends in his new book "Brown." He discusses topics which reveal the aspects of our culture which we are most frightened to acknowledge, and does so at level which intentionally makes us wonder what we paid our college tuition to learn. He litters his arguments with historical and culture allusions, purposefully overwhelming the reader. He evokes uneasiness and makes the reader uncomfortable because it is simply not possible to understand everything Rodriguez says. Rodriguez thereby prevents us from assuming the arrogant stance of thinking that we understand everything, that everything is under control. Instead, he constantly encourages us to stop and consider: our perspective, our reality, our destination, our future. Though at times Rodriguez introduces a personal story to incite sympathy or we actually understand one of his allusions, the book "Brown" concerns itself with topics that usually do not have an answer. "Brown" is a piece of literature which exists by itself and has no need of acceptance or appreciation by its readers. It is a difficult text which challenges its readers and disrupts the contentment and passivity that have created a stagnant America.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's OK to be lost in the text..., November 9, 2005
This review is from: Brown: The Last Discovery of America (Paperback)
Rodriguez shows how some social conventions, such as the use of "Hispanic" and the wilderness connotation of "West," are in reality much more complicated, and he uses rich supplementary evidence to reflect the complexity of his topics.

Take the chapter "Gone West" as an example, to show how the "real West" is more than the traditional "wilderness," Rodriguez points out how Californians move eastwards to the "West," how the "gateway to West" has never been determined, how Ralph Lauren's interpretation of "Original Sin" used totally inaccurate Indian theme, how Adam and Eve were driven to the "east" of Eden where they "assume[d] the burden of time", how Asians moved "east" and Hispanics moved "north" to the American "West"...the list could go on. Rodriguez presents numerous "facts," including many personal experiences, to add more meanings to the idea of "West," and therefore breaks the conventional oversimplification of the phrase, "gone west."

You can be in awe of Rodriguez for how knowledgeable he sounds in the book, or you can be like me and get mad at him for making a simple thing extremely confusing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Depends on what you want..., November 6, 2005
This review is from: Brown: The Last Discovery of America (Paperback)
If you're looking for an interesting social commentary, then pick up Brown. If you're looking for an exciting, can't-put-it-down book, don't pick up Brown. Brown is definitely a difficult book to read. He is not explicit in his points, and makes MANY references to somewhat esoteric facts. I got the feeling that because he has a pride in his education, that he is in a sense "showing" off how much he knows from his large vocabulary to the numerous allusions. You really have to be dedicated to reading Brown, because he jumps around everywhere to make his point. However, once you cut through the fluff and get to what he's really saying, he's actually not too bad. It's just the cutting through the fluff part that's difficult. Some parts of it are actually somewhat inspiring and inspirational, especially as he exposes some truths of society. So if you decide to read Brown, I wish you the best of luck and I pray that you REALLY enjoy seemingly unrelated anecdotes and references.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Gone West"- A Californian's perspective, November 6, 2005
By 
Laurie B. (Burlingame, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brown: The Last Discovery of America (Paperback)
As a native Californian, it was very interesting to read Richard Rodriguez's Gone West because of the references that he makes, but also because it was much easier for me to understand the ultimate theme of this chapter in Brown. Throughout this essay, Rodriguez considers the question of westernization. Despite the fact that so much of Rodriguez's work is impossible to follow and understand, this essay is an exception in that it is lucid and follows a clear structural path. He ultimately asks `What is west for the west?" and, although he does not explicitly state so, he manipulates two definitions of west: one, the physical west, ie: California, and two, the west, the frontier, uncharted territory. Rodriguez argues that the United States has learned history, art and numerous other subjects with the east-west movement. He explains, however, that "East meets East upon [California's] shore" (191). Despite the fact that both geographically and culturally this is true, I would disagree with his statement that California is aware of its position as the end of the United States, and his insistence that `we' have always been telling the rest of the country that the US is a finite place. California and Californians are aware of their position at the coast, representing such a different part of the US, but truly, I believe that we see ourselves as just one, incredibly unique part of the continent. I do not believe that Californians have ever been aware of the finiteness of the nation, despite the presence of the Pacific Ocean to our west. In my opinion, therefore, Rodriguez is correct to say that east is west for the west, but not to say that the west is insistent upon its position as the end. Despite this issue, I believe that Gone West is one of the easier and more logical pieces that Rodriguez has written, and that if you desire to read his works and actually understand them, this might be a good place to start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rodriguez - Brown is All Cultures, January 7, 2007
By 
Elizabeth Rosa Horan (Tempe, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brown: The Last Discovery of America (Paperback)
Rodriguez has written an ambitious book: who else would be willing to take on the idea of "brown" and all it involves, from the many perspectives from which this writer sees? I teach a university course on Biography and Memoir and his is one of my favorite books to include. I love his attention to the role of the public library, schools, how religion divides and unites us. Increasingly we all live in a "brown" world and Rodriguez shows us how books and culture help us explore that world in its origins and awesome potential for good and for ill. His riffs are right-on target: Malcolm X as latter-day Puritan, Frederick Douglass on the same shelf with Benjamin Franklin in terms of writing memoirs that tell us how to live honestly in This America of Ours. The poetry of Rodriguez's language is not at all what we might come to expect from an analytical writer. His work is closer to poetry that looks back to the multiple historical origins of these Americas, asks about the originary moments of various races, cultures, religions coming together, and what has happened since. By writing evocatively, rather than cut-and-dry rants or analyses, Rodriguez does much to explore the structures that pervade and are promised in present-day America. Rodriguez is worth, will pay back in insights every bit of time you put into reading him. Maybe his identity isn't yours, maybe you will want to dismiss him, but if you read through, stay with this book, I promise - he will get under your skin.
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Brown: The Last Discovery of America
Brown: The Last Discovery of America by Richard Rodriguez (Paperback - March 25, 2003)
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