The author, a sociologist, states that “this work attempts to trace the relationship of Chicanos to the legal and judicial system from 1848 to the present” and charges that they “have been subjected to prejudicial and discriminatory treatment—a double standard of justice that applied one system to Anglo-Americans and another to Chicanos” (p. ix). The historical materials (the last two chapters are sociological) focus on the destruction of Mexican land grants in the Southwest, the phenomenon of the so-called social bandits, the conflict between Chicanos and the police, especially in twentieth-century Los Angeles, and the swinging pendulum of U.S. policy toward Mexican immigration.

Although the author speaks of the “judicial system,” there is little here about the situation of Hispanics within the context of litigation. The emphasis is on public law, law enforcement, and Chicano responses, but there is nothing really about whether factors within the Hispanic legal culture put Hispanics at a disadvantage when litigating in the common law legal culture. The book suffers from weak evidence, an insufficient depth of historical understanding, and an extreme bias in interpretation. The problem with the evidence is that, while the author does use primary materials, far too many factual assertions, even direct quotations are based on references to secondary sources. Numerous historical topics are treated with insufficient depth. For example, the entry of squatters onto the land-grant ranchos is seen as an Anglo grab of Mexican lands, legitimized by the U.S. government. However, many of these grants were owned by Anglos, and they were as much victimized by the squatters as Mexicans.

The book’s major weakness is its constant bias. Anglos are always the oppressors, always depicted as racists out to victimize the Mexican to serve expanding U.S. capitalism. There is no balance and no sensitivity, aside from brief and superficial discussion in the sociological section, to a true clash of cultural values. Mirandé states that “since I do not believe that value-free scholarship is possible, my intent is simply to join a number of Chicano scholars who have started to tell the other side of the story” (p. x). If this viewpoint prevails, history becomes a mere function of the historian’s class and racial consciousness, and scholarship is only a pawn in a game of politics. Complete freedom from bias may be impossible, but that does not warrant that we cease the attempt.