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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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,282 ratings  ·  117 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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Gustavo Mendez History in a nutshell is what this book offers. We learn one-sided history in schools to understand the past, how our society came to be and to help u…moreHistory in a nutshell is what this book offers. We learn one-sided history in schools to understand the past, how our society came to be and to help us in the future. Nowadays, I think history must be taught so that we don't repeat it, even though it's happening right in front of our eyes. I think this book is worthwhile for those who give a damn, and to correct others who think they know they're history. As an educator, I approve this message, and to be added in our curriculum.(less)

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Jul 27, 2008 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 02, 2014 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 03, 2009 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
B Sarv
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Mr. Juan Gonzalez produced an interesting and in-depth look at the consequences of empire building that examines the unique situation of the Western Hemisphere. His analysis is broken into three major sections: roots, branches and harvest. Each part contributes to a whole analysis which, though nearly two decades old, speaks to our modern times and the extensive problems that still exist after his powerful warnings so many years ago. The roots deals with the period from 1500-1950, the branches l ...more
Jun 17, 2012 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
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, race-racism, history
Juan Gonzalez's history of Latinos in America combines sweeping historical overview with personal narrative and incisive analysis in this excellent book. Part one of the book (Las Raices) establishes how Spanish and English colonization practices differed, and how these differences had lasting consequences for the varied ways that North America was socially, economically and politically structured. The heart of the book, part two (Las Ramas), explores the various migrant experiences of different ...more
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
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no other book I have read in recent years more pertinent and important to my life as an United States citizen than this text.
I am equally shaken by the expansive violent colonial history of the United States in South/Central America, Horrified at the intentional erasure of this vast historical narrative of the United States, and enlightened as to the past/present underpinnings of the current political climate/tumult in this country over our ongoing colonial exploits in Latin America, a
Apr 15, 2011 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.
Apr 02, 2013 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.
Fatma Helmy
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing book, it can gives the reader a different perspective about the Latinos and USA interest..
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Given the amount of time I’ve spent studying Latin American history, I’m surprised that I never ran into “Harvest of Empire” in the classroom. It is a unique book in that it covers the United State’s relationship with the rest of the Western Hemisphere in a fairly all-encompassing way, while still coming in at under 350 pages. I certainly would have benefited from reading it earlier.
The narration is broken into three main sections: ‘roots’ covers the time frame from first contact between indigen
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
an essential read for anyone who wants to understand how corporate imperialism created mass instability in latin america and drove people out of their homelands
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 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
Dec 04, 2014 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 20, 2010 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
Joe Ruvido
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Essential reading if you want to understand a basic history of US relations with Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The author is Nuyorican and some of the passages are passionately written from the perspective of someone who has lived the immigrant experience. The author's thesis is that American Foreign Policy has created both push and pull effects that have led to the presence of Latinos in the country. This reader, for one, could not agree more. For those of us that regard div ...more
Feb 03, 2013 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
Wow. I thought I knew a fair amount of Latino US history, but boy was I wrong. If you want to get a comprehensive, but succinct overview of Latinos in the United States, this is the book for you.

Juan Gonzalez covers history starting before the Southwest was considered the US all the way through the impacts of NAFTA and the 2006 Immigrant rights marches.

It is an impressive demonstration of how much the US has oppressed Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other countries. He lays it out so clearly th
Kaleb Rogers
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Harvest Empire is an infuriating (though excellent) book that will make one reexamine how they view the presence of Latinos in the United States and the foreign policy historically pursued by the US toward its Latin "Good Neighbors."

The book has an odd narration style, though, as Juan González (a Puerto Rican), adds elements of his personal life to augment his historical and quantitative analysis. Moreover, he includes many individual accounts from various Latinos from his days as a reporter. So
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Latinos, as of this writing, represent around 17% of the country. They are a varied people from many countries and backgrounds. While often ignored by the left, and routinely demonized by the right, they have made untold contributions to the fabric of this country and continue to do so. Juan González illuminates their history in this country, what they have brought with them, and how our country can do right by them and the neighboring countries they come from. Since NAFTA and similar free trade ...more
Mar 23, 2008 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 14, 2013 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 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
An overview of the interaction between the US and Latin America, this book gives a brief summary of the interactions before 1900 and then delves into a few case studies, focusing on the stories of specific migrant communities and countries to illustrate particular points. I particularly enjoyed the section on the end covering Puerto Rico, which contained a lot of new and, frankly, infuriating information. González skillfully balances history and commentary, leaving much of the latter for the end ...more
Blake Nemec
Jul 18, 2011 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
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
Sep 28, 2015 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
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