Books

Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

El Norte

The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America

by Carrie Gibson

A sweeping saga of the Spanish history and influence in North America over five centuries, from the acclaimed author of Empire’s Crossroads

About the Book

Because of our shared English language, as well as the celebrated origin tales of the Mayflower and the rebellion of the British colonies, the United States has prized its Anglo heritage above all others. However, as Carrie Gibson explains with great depth and clarity in El Norte, the nation has much older Spanish roots—ones that have long been unacknowledged or marginalized. The Hispanic past of the United States predates the arrival of the Pilgrims by a century, and has been every bit as important in shaping the nation as it exists today.

El Norte chronicles the sweeping and dramatic history of Hispanic North America from the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century to the present—from Ponce de Leon’s initial landing in Florida in 1513 to Spanish control of the vast Louisiana territory in 1762 to the Mexican-American War in 1846 and up to the more recent tragedy of post-hurricane Puerto Rico and the ongoing border acrimony with Mexico. Interwoven in this stirring narrative of events and people are cultural issues that have been there from the start but which are unresolved to this day: language, belonging, community, race, and nationality. Seeing them play out over centuries provides vital perspective at a time when it is urgently needed.

In 1883, Walt Whitman meditated on his country’s Spanish past: “We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents, and sort them, to unify them,” predicting that “to that composite American identity of the future, Spanish character will supply some of the most needed parts.” That future is here, and El Norte, a stirring and eventful history in its own right, will make a powerful impact on our national understanding.

Praise for Empire’s Crossroads

“Gibson knows how to hold a reader’s interest with gems of fact and sometimes poetic prose.”—New York Times Book Review

“Ambitious . . . With rare narrative verve and a gift for synthesis, Gibson compresses the islands’ histories into a wide-ranging, vivid narrative.”—Observer (UK), “Best History Books of 2014”

“A rich and thorough history of the Caribbean from colonialism to the present day . . . Carrie Gibson’s thoughtful and extensively researched Empire’s Crossroads is a revelation. It is both a readable and in-depth study . . . A valuable work that is required reading for scholars and students . . . Impassioned and anecdotally rich.”—Christian Science Monitor

“There can never be too many books about the Caribbean, a region whose diversity and cultural richness is unparalleled, and Carrie Gibson’s new offering is a welcome addition to the canon.”—BBC History (UK)

“[An] epic history of the Caribbean . . . Vivid and thought-provoking.”—Spectator (UK)

“Gibson’s social history focuses heavily on the destructive legacy of slavery, the bitter divisiveness of racism, and the brutality and inequalities of the opulent sugar plantations that dominated Caribbean economies for 300 years . . . Gibson tells [the story] in fluid, colorful prose peppered with telling anecdotes.”—Foreign Affairs

“A marvelously rich and inclusive panorama of five centuries of Caribbean history . . . A work that brings fresh energy, assurance and insight to an area that is not often the focus of historians. Gibson’s study is sure to gratify academics, history buffs, and anyone intrigued by the Caribbean’s colorful, volatile, and multifaceted societies.”—Library Journal