In This Review

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America
El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America
By Carrie Gibson
576 pp, Grove Atlantic, 2019

A scholar and journalist, Gibson traversed the United States in search of monuments and other traces of Hispanic influence on U.S. history and culture. The sweeping journey of the book stretches from the arrival of Columbus to the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, and it intends to reinsert the Hispanic past into the memories and imaginations of contemporary Americans. The tragedies and injustices are countless. Gibson unearths the deep roots of white supremacy, which was critical to justifying the demolition of indigenous communities, the enslavement of Africans, the conquest of Mexico, the land grabs from the Spanish in California, and a succession of U.S. military interventions in the Caribbean. But Gibson avoids dogma, celebrating the enduring contributions of Hispanic peoples to American life in her visits to Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Tucson, and her hometown of Dalton, Georgia. “In a shared Anglo-Hispanic popular culture, who or what is ‘Hispanic’ remains unresolved,” she observes. The story she tells “is not a separate history of outsiders or interlopers, but one that is central to how the United States has developed and will continue to develop.”