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Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
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Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  733 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Spanning 500 years of Hispanic history, from the first New World colonies to the 19th century westward expansion in America, this narrative features family portraits of real-life immigrants along with sketches of the political events and social conditions that compelled them to leave their homeland.
Paperback, 346 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published 2000)
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Jul 27, 2008 Sonja rated it liked it
Shelves: dissertation
The only reason it gets three instead of four or five stars is, while I like Gonzalez's intent to steer clear of composing a text written in what he terms the "safari approach" (meaning a text geared toward the Anglo -- i.e. non-Latino -- reader in which the writer guides the reader toward knowledge of the "other") I take slight issue with his ultimate conclusion in the Introduction that terminology debates are a complete waste of time. While I agree that arguing over labels such as "Hispanic" v ...more
Jul 09, 2014 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Easy to see why its required text in many university programs. A complete history of Latin Americans relationship with Europe. The primary countries it looks at is Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Honduras, and El Salvador. Reviews all aspects of annexation and immigration. Makes a point of emphasis on how annexation from the United States created a cultural contribution by Hispanics to the conquerors future culture, despite it being largely ignored. Compares and cont ...more
Mar 10, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
A compilation of the history of many Central American countries with the thesis that the United States is complicit in the current instability of the region due to diplomatic and economic decisions and military interloping. In the title of the book, Gonzalez suggests that the United States intervened in the politics and economy of Central America to create an American empire. I learned so much history that was only given a cursory glance in school. I certainly learned about aspects of American g ...more
Jul 09, 2012 Osvaldo rated it really liked it
Shelves: latino-lit
This book is great. I might have given it five stars if it wasn't for the fact that it is a little uneven in its treatment of different Latin American nations. Of course, I probably shouldn't hold that against Gonzalez, by his own admission, "Latin America" is a large and varied place, and there is no way any one book could possible cover it all, as such some nations are hardly mentioned (if not completely ignored).

However, if you can get over this (which I can understand would be difficult if y
Mariah Tapia
Dec 17, 2014 Mariah Tapia rated it really liked it
This book is definitely in the same vein as Galeano, but his perspective is that of a North American, an essential difference. His ideas on bilingualism in conquered territories are startling and new (at least to me). I am of slightly Latino heritage and this book did not cover my family's particular immigrant experience, but it told me a lot about my neighbors, both in the US and across the border. I think that his most interesting pieces were about the mechanics of US investment in Central Ame ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the issue of immigration in America today. The central thesis of the book is that our current crisis is the direct consequence of our actions in the past. Gonzalez makes his case clearly and compellingly. The foreign policy and trade policy of the United States destroyed the economies of South and Central America and this created refugees who fled North seeking work.

"Harvest of Empire" is also a useful primer on the history of how Lati
This book was hibernating after being a book club pick last year. I finally finished it and it was well worth it. The book is written in three sections and can easily be picked up and put down. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to get a grip on the history of Latinos in the United States. Gonzalez craftfully weaves together the history of various Latino groups - Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Central Americans etc. -providing a cohesive picture that I appreciated. He definite ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Angelia rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book about the history of the Latinos in America that was never taught in school but should have been. it will remain in my library as a reference.
Dec 18, 2016 Kyle rated it really liked it
Great overview of Latino history and the US, gives a little more focus on the last 20 years or so and more focus on the author's home of Puerto Rico. However that isn't to the detriment of the book and of achieving its goal, which it does clearly and effectively.
Harvest of Empire is a tale of two civilizations, Anglo and Spanish. In general terms, it recounts the history or rather the plight of Latin America, of people and cultures dominated first by European powers, and then by the colonial rebels turned colonial master, the United States. The author ends by arguing that the United States owes as much its Hispanic tradition as its Anglo, and that it should embrace Hispanic culture and make amends to foreign policy which has wreaked havoc throughout the ...more
Jan 28, 2015 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read "Harvest of Empire" by Juan Gonzalez for a class. I found it interesting. The history of Latino peoples in the United States is something I never knew so I was glad to read it. I was saddened, of course, to read how corporate and political greed lead to many of the problems that are now facing the US and Latino people specifically. Despite its enormous task of giving the history of a large people group, Gonzalez manages to write very accessibly. The history he explains are accented with f ...more
Feb 08, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it
This book feels very dated. (It came out before 9/11, before the giant immigrant rights mobilizations in in '06.) But I still found it really informative. A couple of highlights: I really liked the way Gonzalez, maybe because of his journalist background, choose the story of a family from each group of Latino immigrants he wrote a chapter about to build that chapter around. In my classroom I have a child who was born in the Dominican Republic, another who was born in El Salvador, and a child who ...more
Dec 31, 2010 Drick rated it it was amazing
Juan Gonzalez has written a very clear history of Hispanics in the United States. Just as Ronald Takaki showed the true multicultural nature of immigrants in A Different Mirror, Gonzalez shows the multicultural and multifaceted make-up of Hispanics in the United States. After reviewing the history of the US involvement in the subjugation and control of Latin America, he then recounts the unique histories of several different groups: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia ...more
Mar 23, 2013 BurgendyA rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to anyone one. Also for the history buffs out there.
Recommended to BurgendyA by: My Latino Studies professor had the class read it as a text
Harvest of Empire:A History of Latinos in America was a wonderful book that was beautifully written and clarifies the Latin American history from Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. I have read this book for a Latino studies class in the university I go to and I loved it so much.

Juan Gonzalez delivers a great insight of what the first Hispanics have gone through in the beginning of the United State (New World). From beginning to current events of now, so he has done his researc
May 12, 2008 Jon rated it it was amazing
Harvest of Empire is a little out of date now, but it is still essential reading for understanding the nuances of the wave of Latino immigration that is changing the face of the US.

Gonzalez is especially good at illuminating the distinctions between the
backgrounds of the various Latino sub groups. As a Puerto Rican, he understandably spends quite a lot of the book on that country. He makes a strong case for seeing Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans as tremendously exploited by the US, and left hangi
Meg Petersen
Jan 25, 2013 Meg Petersen rated it it was amazing
Usually updated editions disappoint me, but this was an exception. Usually, they tend to read as if the author had tacked on some updates that don't flow with the original vision of the book, but this one reads very smoothly. I appreciated that the author contrasted the colonial pasts of both the English and the Spanish colonists and how this affects us to this day. I also appreciated the comprehensiveness of the history, although you could note that the author was Puerto Rican in the extended c ...more
Meghan Herbst
Jun 14, 2016 Meghan Herbst rated it it was amazing
For anyone delving into the history of US-Latin American relations, this is the perfect primer. From here, I would recommend "Manufacturing Consent" by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, which explores how mass media in the states peddled and white-washed the economic expansion of the United States into South and Central America. Gonzalez is an incredible journalist with a decades long career, reporting for the NY Daily News and more recently co-anchoring for the independent news broadcast Democrac ...more
This looks like a good book but it is too boring to me. The premise is that the US has interfered in Latin America in ways which caused our immigration problem. I am sure that Latin America has made plenty of its own problems without the US, but I also believe that there is some truth to this premise. I asked Jeff to read the book and then summarize it for me. While he believes that America's empire-building has caused many problems around the world, he also thinks that the US is not to blame fo ...more
Oct 08, 2015 Chloe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Everyone needs to read this book. It's important to know from whence you came- especially if it's affecting the present in unprecedented and frightening ways. This book describes the history of Empire in the Americas with power and pragmatism, telling about English, British, and U.S. empire and the effects of that Empire. This book is vital to understanding current events, whether domestically or abroad, pertaining to Latinos both in the United States and in Latin America. One of the few books t ...more
Jul 28, 2011 blake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The book narrates three phases of Latino history in the u.s., beginning with anglo vs hispanic colonialization of u.s.(roots), to how different Latinos emigrated to the u.s.(branches), to the interdependencies of globalization and emigration as seen in twentieth century. It was published in 2000 so the last section of the book leaves out anti-globalization movement politics.

Gonzalez is a clean and personable historian; many sections narrate the history with specific people or families he intervi
Jun 10, 2011 Carlos rated it liked it
Author's argument is that US colonial adventures in Latin America from the late 1800s to the 1980's destabilized the region, forcing immigration to the United States in recent years. I found that the author's treatment of different groups was fairly uneven, but his main argument was accurate and his overview of Mexican-American history was excellent. The book is now somewhat outdated, but provides an excellent history of Latin America for those of us who have forgotten.
Bethany Woodson
Jul 14, 2013 Bethany Woodson rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-for-school
Well this is not a happy story but is full of great information, history, politics, solutions to problems that have plagued Latin Americans forever. I found it very informative, there is a lot about South American history that is not taught in United States schools even though we were directly involved.
Mar 05, 2009 Elaine rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elaine by: Kate
I am not sure I would call this a "left leaning" outlook except in some of the author's sugestions. However it is a fair history of the Latin American's emmigration to the US and his contributions to this country; the struggles and prejudices he has endured, and his value to our shared culture. I have given this book to friends who are working with and living with Hispanics.
Jun 03, 2016 Leo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
operation wetback
free trade agreements only benefit already wealthy country
caused agriculture to go out of business, so:
1. more emmigration north from l america
2. more resorting to cultivating drugs as income
Viviana Perez
Feb 26, 2008 Viviana Perez rated it really liked it
I love this book. It is a very easy read about the (relatively recent) history of Latinos in the United States. I found the explanation of the economic dependency and imperalism that the United States had since the conquest especially easy to understand and explain to others.
May 08, 2008 Callie rated it it was amazing
I love Juan Gonzalez. This book gave me a lot of clarity about why Latinos are forced from their home of origin to come to the United States seeking a better life. I espeically like his writing style - gotta love authors who are also journalists.
Aug 20, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: students looking for a user-friendly latino-american history overview
great history book because it's not written by a historian, but a journalist. So it tells a story. Nice overview on US policies that have impacted Latin American lives and immigration, and the tangled history of the continent.
It was definitely a great breakdown history of the Latino/a diaspora. I probably wouldn't have read this on my own. I did learn a lot from this book. However, I that felt that at times the author putting to much of his own opinion in.
May 31, 2008 Toni rated it it was amazing
Read Juan Gonzalez's (Democracy Now!) portrait of U.S. imperialism in Latin America and the Latino struggle in the U.S. for a concise and engaging historical overview. This literature is essential to every truthseeker's book list.
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