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1 34Southwestern Historical QuarterlyJuly nent spots in the East and Far West. Racism and conservative views on civil liberties did not suddenly change. As Hurt ably sums up, "if the war years for the people of the Great Plains could be painted, it would not be a canvas with brilliant colors or one with stark tones of black and white. Radier, the picture would be multiple shades of gray" (400). Southwestern Adventist UniversityR. StevenJones Generations ofExclusion: Mexican Americans, Assimilation, and Race. By Edward E. Telles and Vilma Ortiz. (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008. Pp. 410. Maps, tables, charts, appendices, notes, references, index. ISBN: 9780871548481, $39.95 cloth.) Sociologists Edward E. Telles and Vilma Ortiz from the University of California-Los Angeles contribute to the essential literature on U.S. Latinos with their longitudinal study of Mexican Americans from the 1 960s to the present. The authors procured original survey response questionnaires from the groundbreaking 1965 Mexican American Study Project (MASP) when they were found in a library closet at UCLA during renovations in the 1990s. Conducted at the height of the Great Society, the original Mexican American Study Project cataloged social and economic demographics from thousands of Mexican Americans surveyed in Los Angeles and San Antonio. Joan W. Moore, the lone surviving author of the 1 965 study, explains in the foreword to Generations ofExclusion that the intent of the MASP was to produce a "benchmark" that would quantify and elicit the need for legislative support of Mexican Americans' interests. The discovery of the MASP surveys prompted Telles and Ortiz to undertake the ambitious task of locating the original respondents and their families. Using "state-of-the-art social science methods, [the authors] have followed the intergenerational experience of Mexican origin adults in 1965 to their children as adults in 2000" (265). Generations ofExclusion rejects categorization of Mexican-American social progress in terms of the assimilationist or racialist theories that have been used to describe the experiences of European Americans and African Americans. Generally, European immigrants throughout the twentieth century have been able to assimilate completely into the majority culture within a couple generations . These descendants of Europeans may retain symbolic holiday and culinary traditions, but otherwise have left their old societies behind. Conversely, racialist theories describe the experience of African Americans as marginalized vis-à-vis mainstream white society, and assimilation strikingly slow or stagnant. When applied to Mexican Americans these models only fit portions of the ethnic whole. The authors found that while there was measurable assimilation for Mexican Americans in the first and second generations after immigration, there was a distinct social and educational backslide for the third and fourth generations. Unlike the racialist internal colonial model for Mexican Americans posed by some previous scholars, Telles and Ortiz believe that social, economic, and educational gaps are a due to a confluence of structural factors. Generations of Exclusion presents poor quality of education, constant Mexican immigration, and 20ogBook Reviews135 a limiting working-class economy as the elements defining Mexican-American assimilation. The sociologists recognize education as the lynchpin dictating the future for Mexican Americans; they present educational reform as the most salient route for reversing the negative trend. The highest achievement of this project is the design of die study. Telles and Ortiz took full advantage of the opportunities left them by original MASP researchers and accumulated myriad data that will prove useful to a variety of researchers. Their analysis is convincing as well. Certainly Mexican Americans are better positioned than they were in the ig6os; however, the stalled progress and regression between generational assimilation elucidates the problematic characterization within traditional modes. The authors invite debate in their policy proposals by favoring education restructuring over immigration or economic reform, but the ability of improved educational quality to positively affect Mexican-American assimilation is more than plausible. Regardless of any favored prescription, Generations ofExclusion provides a much improved analytical framework for studying Mexican Americans—one that should be considered by all scholars of contemporary United States society. University ofCalifornia-BerkeleyJoseph Orbock Medina Dolph Briscoe: My Life in Texas Ranching and Politics. By Dolph Briscoe, as told to Don Carleton. (Austin: Center for American History, 2008. Pp. 296. Illustrations , index...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 134-135
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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