In This Review

Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
By Juan González
346 pp, Viking, 2000

Latinos are estimated to become the largest U.S. minority group by 2010, numbering more than 40 million. This spectacular transformation has resulted largely from escalating immigration since the 1960s, profoundly affecting such states as California, New York, Texas, and Florida. González, a columnist at the New York Daily News, addresses this massive demographic shift in his rich, angry, and provocative book. With a combination of history, reportage, cross-disciplinary insights, and old-fashioned leftist outrage, he links U.S. intervention abroad and the tyranny of its unbridled market to the profound transformations at home -- namely, the arrival of millions of Spanish-speaking immigrants. They are the "unexpected harvest" of the "expansion that transformed the entire hemisphere into an economic satellite," he charges. In turn, U.S. policy toward its Latin American population will determine whether domestic tranquillity or interethnic conflict will mark the twenty-first century. His solutions are radical: complete labor mobility between the United States and Mexico to end the "predatory" market in cheap Mexican labor; recognition of minority language rights; investment in U.S. cities and public schools; and an end to U.S. militarism, Puerto Rico's colonial status, and the blockade of Cuba. This book will not be popular in many boardrooms, but it tells a salutary tale that is set not south of the border but on Main Street.