Mexican communities in the United States faced more than unemployment during the Great Depression. Discrimination against Mexican nationals and similar prejudices against Mexican Americans led the communities to seek help from Mexican consulates, which in most cases rose to their defense.
Los Angeles’s consulate was confronted with the country’s largest concentration of Mexican Americans, for whom the consuls often assumed a position of community leadership. Whether helping the unemployed secure repatriation and relief or intervening in labor disputes, consuls uniquely adapted their roles in international diplomacy to the demands of local affairs.
Widely regarded as one of the best works by the winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Literature, San Camilo, 1936 appears here for the first time in English translation. One of Spain’s most popular writers, Camilo José Cela is recognized for his experiments with language and with difficult subject matter. In San Camilo, 1936, first published in 1969, these concerns converge in a fascinating narrative that is as challenging as it is rewarding, as troubling as it is compelling. A story of history as it happens, by turns confusing and startingly clear, echoing with news and rumors, defined by grand gestures and intimate pauses, the novel leads the reader into the ordinary life of extraordinary times. Beginning on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, San Camilo, 1936 follows a twenty-year-old student’s attempts to sort out his private affairs (sex, money, career) in the midst of the turmoil overtaking his country. In vivid and richly textured prose that distinguishes Cela’s work, the emotional reality of civil war takes on a vibrant immediacy that is humorous, tender, and ultimately transforming as a young man tries to come to terms with the historical moment he inhabits—and hopes to survive. Readers new to Cela will find in this novel ample reason for the author’s growing reputation among audiences worldwide.
In 1936, the Spanish Foreign Legion was the most well equipped, thoroughly trained, and battle-tested unit in the Spanish Army, and with its fearsome reputation for brutality and savagery, the Legion was not only critical to the eventual victory of Franco and the Nationalists, but was also a powerful propaganda tool the Nationalists used to intimidate and terrorize its enemies. Drawing upon Spanish military archival sources, the Legion’s own diary of operations and relevant secondary sources, Alvarez recounts the pivotal role played by the Spanish Foreign Legion in the initial months of the Spanish Civil War, a war that was not only between Spaniards, but that pitted the political ideology of Communism and Socialism against that of Fascism and Nazism.
The red rock canyon country of southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona is one of the most isolated, wild, and beautiful regions of North America. Europeans and Americans over time have mostly avoided, disdained, or ignored it. Wrecks of Human Ambition illustrates how this landscape undercut notions and expectations of good, productive land held by the first explorers, settlers, and travelers who visited it. Even today, its aridity and sandy soils prevent widespread agricultural exploitation, and its cliffs, canyons, and rivers thwart quick travel in and through the landscape.
Most of the previous works regarding the history of this unique region have focused on either early exploration or twentieth-century controversies that erupted over mineral and water development and the creation of national parks and wilderness areas. This volume fills a gap in existing histories by focusing on early historical themes from the confrontation between Euro-Christian ideals and this challenging landscape. It centers on three interconnected interpretations of the area that unfolded when visitors from green, well-watered, productive lands approached this desert. The Judeo-Christian obligation to “make the desert bloom,” encompassed ideas of millenarianism and of Indian conversion and acculturation as well as the Old Testament symbolism of the “garden” and the “desert.” It was embodied in the efforts of Spanish missionaries who came to the canyon country from the 1500s to the 1700s, and in the experiences of Mormon settlers from about 1850 to 1909. Another conflicting sentiment saw the region simply as bad land to avoid, an idea strongly held by U.S. government explorers in the 1850s. This conclusion too was reinforced by the experiences of those who attempted to settle and exploit this country. Finally, though, the rise of tourism brought new ideas of wilderness reverence to the canyon country. The bad lands became valuable precisely because they were so distinct from traditionally settled landscapes.
In pursuing the conflict between Euro-Christian ideals and an arid, rugged, resistant landscape of deserts and canyons, Paul Nelson provides in clear, engaging language the most detailed examination yet published of colonial Spain’s encounter with the region and lays out some of Mormonism’s rare failures in settling the arid West.