Laura E. Gómez’s Manifest Destinies offers a new interpretation of the ideology of Manifest Destiny and how that ideology worked to create a Mexican American race in New Mexico. Gómez states that “more than a century-and-a-half ago, a series of events occurred that resulted in the formation of Mexican Americans as a racial group in the United States” (p. 1). Such a statement invites criticism from Mexican American historians who, like me, were trained to consider the terms “Mexican” and “Mexican American” as ethnic or national designations. While Gómez’s thesis is not without problems, she stands on firmer footing than some scholars might suppose. After all, race is socially constructed. Gomez explores the ways in which Anglo politicians, court officials, settlers, and the Mexican Americans who had long called New Mexico home constructed the racial identity of Mexican Americans.

Gómez traces the racial...

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