These three books are aimed at three different audiences who share an interest in the Chicano. The first book is an attempt at establishing a chronology of contributions made by Hispanic people in the United States. The second is a popular soul-searching narrative on Chicano history; and, the third is a collection of articles written by serious scholars on a variety of Chicano-related topics.
The first book, by Arthur A. Natella, Jr., is a compilation of chronology and assorted facts with little thematic continuity other than to show contributions made by Hispanic Americans in the United States. Names of celebrities, most of them actors, artists and writers, including their birthdates, fill much of the chronology. No attempt was made by Natella to analyze periodization or to pinpoint significant events. Rather, the chronology is contrived and filled with much trivia, some of it incorrect.
Natella includes a documentary section which bears little purpose in view of the facility by which many of the selected documents may be found. The most useful part of the book is the bibliography which is selective at best. Although the conception of the book is an excellent idea, much more careful work and analysis as well as an effort to broaden the scope to include other significant events and people are required to make it a useful source book.
David Gómez, Catholic priest, Chicano activist, law student, and writer has produced a readable and documented history of Chicanos. Thematically, Gómez’ book is divided in two parts: an autobiographiical disclosure of how he came to realize his identity and a history of alienation and survival of Mexican Americans. Gómez also examined colonial-native relationships operating between Anglo-American society and the Chicano community in the Southwest. He has contributed a useful commentary on American society.
Norris Hundley’s edition of The Chicano contains essays by eleven scholars that have appeared in the Pacific Historical Review. The essay topics vary from debates over scholarship to biography, labor, repatriation and identity. For example, in one essay Carey McWilliams explains how he came to write North from Mexico. In another Rodolfo Acuña presents a well thought-out rebuttal to Arthur M. Corwin’s opinions on Chicano scholarship. Quite divorced from such polemics is Felix Almaraz’ excellent biography of Carlos E. Castañeda. Another article wth good biographical material deals with patrón leadership in nineteenth-century Colorado coauthored by William B. Taylor and Elliott West. Labor and repatriation are themes in essays contributed by Charles Wollenberg, Abraham Hoffman, Niel Betten and Raymond A. Mohl. Richard Nostrand’s essay on typology of Mexican Americans is a commonplace, but important, report which emphasizes identity. Although the essays contain little thematic unity, Miguel León-Portilla, in the forward, sees the book as representative of papers “written from the inside and outside” by authors who hope to achieve a better understanding of the Chicano experience.