Famous Mexican Americans Essay - Critical Context

Wendy Dunn, Janet Normura Morey

Critical Context

Another book entitled Famous Mexican-Americans, written by Clarke Newlon and published in 1972, is also aimed toward a young audience; it is one of seventy or more titles in the Dodd, Mead series Famous Biographies for Young People. Newlon’s book portrays fifteen Mexican Americans’ lives in thirteen chapters and contains a concluding collective chapter that provides biographical capsules of Rodolfo (Corky) Gonzales, Carlos Conde, Luis Nogales, Dolores Huerta, and José Angel Gutiérrez. The format of Newlon’s book likely influenced that of Morey and Dunn’s text. The only biographies featured in both books, however, are those of Chávez, Nogales, and Huerta. While Newlon’s book is plagued by many errors in facts, names, and other data that should have been checked and verified, Morey and Dunn have avoided that problem.

Famous Mexican Americans deserves wide use in schools. Although Morey and Dunn do not have a truly distinguished writing style, their great clarity and accuracy deserve emulation by students. Spanish terms and less well known English words and phrases are defined in context, making the work accessible to readers of all ages. The acknowledgments section reveals that ten of the fourteen subjects provided extensive interviews and assistance, and the others made their top aides and assistants available for interviews and additional help. Abundant direct quotations from the book’s subjects are also used effectively. Opportunities abound for students to compare primary and secondary sources in historical and biographical study. Thus, Famous Mexican Americans should interest young readers and anyone studying South-west history, biography techniques, or oral history.