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Latino USA, Revised Edition: A Cartoon History Paperback – April 3, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If it's a comic book, then it can't be a work of serious scholarship, right? Wrong. Ilan Stavans, a literary scholar and cultural historian, teams up with Chicano artist Lalo Alcaraz to craft an endlessly entertaining but painstakingly researched history of Latinos--also called Latin Americans and Hispanics, and taking in peoples from all over the Spanish-speaking world--in the United States. Stavans's text covers the ground from avocados to zoot suits, touching on such matters as the Puerto Rican independence movement, the Mexican American War, the Marielito flotilla, and the ongoing struggle for civil rights throughout the hemisphere.

Stavans has great fun, it's clear, twitting received wisdom. He observes, for instance, that Mexico's "Niños Heroes" may be an invention of folklore, and wryly remarks that "nationalism turns egotism into an ideology." Alcaraz has just as much fun, subversively borrowing stock figures such as the toucan (a symbol in much Latin American literature) and the skeleton to serve as a kind of ironic Greek chorus. But author and illustrator also fulfill an earnestly undertaken mission: namely, in Stavans's words, to "represent Hispanic civilization as a fiesta of types, archetypes, and stereotypes" and to tell its story from many points of view. In this they succeed admirably, and Latino U.S.A. is required reading for anyone interested in democratic, inclusive historical writing. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

". . . Latino's kaleidoscopic perspective bubbles with an irreverent mix of Latin politics, wit, self-reference and sincerity." -- San Antonio Express-News [September 1, 2000]

". . . an amusing comic book that outlines the salient features of U.S. Latino history." -- Houston Chronicle [November 1, 2000]

"....a cartoon history for everyone: ...witty and inviting." -- Kirkus Reviews [October 1, 2000]

"Latino USA explores these and similarly serious questions in entertaining cartoon form." -- Austin American-Statesman [October 30,

"Read this primer if you don't want to be left out." -- The --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 15 Anv edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780465082506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465082506
  • ASIN: 0465082505
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Deliciously left wing, and direct and powerful, Ilan Stavans is not afraid to stand and be counted and he knows that you might not like what he has to say. And what he has to say is " Look here. This is good. This is powerful."
He reaches out to inform -- and celebrate the culture-- with authority and panache. He speaks the truth about the oppressed and the oppressor and his book pulls no punches in a direct attack on any hint of a poor Latino self-image. No time for pity here because the time for ascendance is coming.
This book is a necessary shakeup. It's a primer, albeit uneven at times, to folks outside the Latino community and a step in reaching out to those who don't know the truth of their (varied) civilizations.
Rich and potent, this opinionated polemic stands out as a tool to understanding and pride.
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Format: Hardcover
My joy at hearing about a cartoon history of Latinos (not, you may notice, Latinas or even Latina/os) illustrated by Lalo Alcaraz was tempered only slightly by hearing the editor (not, I'm sorry Mr Stavans, the author) was self-styled Mexican kitsch authority Ilan Stavans. "A possible resource for teaching!" I thought. Reading the book, however, was such a great disappointment that I doubt it's going to make the cut for the classroom.
Without denigrating at all Lalo Alcaraz' art, the book fails on several levels, not the least of which is originality. The first question I asked myself was "Who was this written for?" The introduction to what could have been a revolutionary book seems to veer between being too clever for its own good and winking in the direction of academics, intimating somehow that "comics" are a kind of Latino cultural icon that is kitschy and therefore useful for transmitting ideas. Stavans hasn't done much work on cartoons or comics, or the notion that cartoonish comic art is more (or less) appropriate to represent Latino history would have been more informed. Alcaraz' talent rises above this rather mediocre beginning and keeps the reader amused, even while Stavans (as a cartoon Mini-Me) keeps popping up exclaiming the inevitability of historical bias, insisting on the futility of "truth" in history, and generally sounding defensive. Instead of acknowledging the real social and cultural impact of how history has been and gets transmitted, Stavans seems to want to exist in an academic, vague vacuum, which he may believe protects him or makes him appear to be unbiased-- it does neither. Even some of us academics know that.
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Format: Hardcover
Ilan Stavans studies and teaches Latino and Latin American culture and most recently authored Spanglish: The Making Of A New American Language. Lalo Alcaraz reaches the public on a daily basis through his most excellent comic strip La Cucaracha. Together they have joined to take the reader on a trip through Latino USA: A Cartoon History. Biting and sweet, biased and fair, incomplete but thorough, Latino USA is a good way to introduce yourself to the history of the majority minority in the United States. The scholarship is tight and Alcaraz's art makes it go down easy. I can't wait to get my copy into the school library, where I hope some of my not very cosmopolitan anglo students and not as self-aware as they could be latino students get pulled in by the drawings and learn a little history. I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great way to learn the American History that your educators refused to cover. This book covers important parts of American History involving both Hispanics and Latin@s. While they don't go over every single detail that happens, they do cover enough to give you the motivation to go out and learn more about the other side of America.

Here are the chapters of the book, as well as some of my favorite topics mentioned within them:

P1: Conquest and Exploration 1492-1890
• The cruelties of the Holy Church
• Forget the Alamo
• The Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty
• Border bylaws and outlaws
P2: Into the Cauldron 1891-1957
• Our good neighbor policy
• Miguel Antonio Otero rules
• Viva Zapata!
• Hispanophobia: The Movie
P3: Upheaval 1958-1977
• Here comes FIdel Castro
• Bilingual Education is born
• Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez also raises the myth of Aztlan
• Cesar Chavez's hunger
• Triumphs and Tribulations of the Chicano Movement
P4: In Search of a Mainstream 1978-1998
• Central America on fire!
• Comprendes Español? The English only movement
• Bilingual Nation
P5: Welcome to Gringolandia 1998-Mañana (tomorrow)
• Patriotism and its Discontents
• Dreamers Act
• The making of Latino USA
• Fear and Racial profiling in Arizona

These topics and more are covered in the book. Anyone and everyone who is a part of, or wants to learn more about, Hispanic/Latin@ culture should go out and buy this book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The mezcla of the cartoons of Lalo Alcaraz (of the comic strip La Cucaracha) and the scholarship of Ilan Stavans creates a lively and informative overview of the history of US Latinos, cleverly incorporating traditional Latino theatrical characters and symbols as the storytellers. The book is great fun to read; its format makes it accessible to readers of all ages, and anyone fuzzy about the role Latinos have played in US history and culture during the past 500 years or so should RUSH to buy it.
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