Milton Meltzer Paul Heins - Essay

Paul Heins

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Milton Meltzer, the] author of many books about the various ethnic groups living in the United States feels that the "story of the Hispanic Americans has been neglected or hidden. Yet that history, that life in the past, has shaped our present, no matter what ethnic group we ourselves may belong to." First reminding us of the part played by the Spaniards in exploring and colonizing the Western Hemisphere, [Meltzer, in The Hispanic Americans,] considers in detail the three main streams of Hispanics who have become part of American life: the Puerto Ricans, the Chicanos in the Southwest, and the political émigrés from Cuba. He explores the development of their legal, economic, political, and cultural status in the United States and informs us that "Hispanic people will replace blacks as the country's biggest minority by the end of the 1980s." The sympathetic narrative, which stresses the tenacity of the Spanish way of life, frequently relies upon references to specific individuals and quotes their statements verbatim. In keeping with the author's strong sense of justice, one chapter discusses the evils and the stereotypes nurtured by racism, while the documentary photographs concentrate on the environment and on the daily activities of contemporary Hispanic Americans.

Paul Heins, in his review of "The Hispanic Americans," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1982 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. LVIII, No. 4, August, 1982, p. 424.