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Worker in the Cane: A Puerto Rican Life History Paperback – November 17, 1974
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From the Back Cover
This is the absorbing story of Don Taso, a Puerto Rican sugar cane worker, and of his family and the village in which he lives. Told largely in his own words, it is a vivid account of the drastic changes taking place in Puerto Rico, as he sees them.Worker In The Cane is both a profound social document and a moving spiritual testimony. Don Taso portrays his harsh childhood, his courtship and early marriage, his grim struggle to provide for his family. He tells of his radical political beliefs and union activity during the Depression and describes his hardships when he was blacklisted because of his outspoken convictions. Embittered by his continuing poverty and by a serious illness, he undergoes a dramatic cure and becomes converted to a Protestant revivalist sect. In the concluding chapters the author interprets Don Taso's experience in the light of the rapidly changing patterns of life in rural Puerto Rico.
About the Author
Sidney W. Mintz is professor of anthropology at The Johns Hopkins University.
Top customer reviews
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The critical core of this ethnography, the autobiography, was an afterthought. Shortly after the conclusion of his field work with Mintz, Taso joined the Pentacostal Church. Mintz was astonished and perplexed by Taso's decision since he thought he knew Taso and viewed him as a practical, intelligent man not vulnerable to seemingly irrational and spontaneous life choices.
Mintz returned to P.R. in 1953 to unearth the reasoning underlying the conversion and in the course of his search (lucky for us) he assembled Taso's autobiography. Taso's life story is interwoven with Mintz's personal observations of Taso, interviews with Taso's wife, Elí (Elisabeth Villaronga Colón de Zayas) and Mintz's commentaries based on information gathered during the `48 -'49 research period. The combination of autobiography and ethnography brings Taso, his family and the neighboring Juaqueños to life. These are warm bodied human beings we can care about, not the deadwood of the traditional ethnography.
May 22, 2000
Although it gets bogged down at times, the book does shed some light on the reasons why a nominal Catholic like Don Taso would convert to Pentecostalism later in his life. Frankly, the personal accounts and experiences of Taso and his wife are more interesting to read than Mintz's narrative even though Taso jumps from topic to topic. This reads less like a history book and more like an autobiography of conversion.