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Brown: The Last Discovery of Americaby Richard Rodriguez
Synopses & Reviews
America is browning. As politicians, schoolteachers, and grandparents attempt to decipher what that might mean, Richard Rodriguez argues America has been brown from its inception, as he himself is.
As a brown man, I think . . .
(But do we really think that color colors thought?)
In his two previous memoirs, Hunger of Memory and Days of Obligation, Rodriguez wrote about the intersection of his private life with public issues of class and ethnicity. With Brown, his consideration of race, Rodriguez completes his "trilogy on American public life."
For Rodriguez, brown is not a singular color. Brown is evidence of mixture. Brown is a shade created by desire-an emblem of the erotic history of America, which began the moment the African and the European met within the Indian eye. Rodriguez reflects on various cultural associations of the color brown-toil, decay, impurity, time-arranging dazzling juxtapositions for which he is justly famous: Alexis de Tocqueville, Malcolm X, minstrel shows, Broadway musicals, Puritanism, the Sistine Chapel, Cubism, homosexuality, and the influence on his life of two federal figures-Ben Franklin and Richard Nixon ("the dark father of Hispanicity").
At the core of the book is an assessment of the meaning of Hispanics to the life of America. Reflecting upon the new demographic profile of our country, Rodriguez observes that Hispanics are becoming Americanized at the same rate that the United States is becoming Latinized. Hispanics are coloring an American identity that traditionally has chosen to describe itself as black and white.
"Brown: The Last Discovery of America continues in the method of [his previous books], drawing together chapters that resemble essays but are more like the individual voices in a fugue, connected by motifs and melodies that echo back and forth in patterns, through this book and through the rest of Rodriguez's work. The recurrent strands of his thought — family, religion, education, race, sex, California, America, Mexico — gain new resonance each time and stand, in the end, for the complexity of a whole greater than the sum of its parts." Anthony Walton, The New York Times Book Review
"An important voice, saying something new, something profound about the American experience....Here is a writer who can make words riot." Vogue
"Richard Rodriguez's beautiful new book, Brown, is a meditation on America's family secrets. It is a lyrical hymn on the tenebrous side of history, one not marked by triumphs or defeats but by entanglements born of eroticism and, sometimes, love....Throughout these essays, Rodriguez expands our vision of our shared lineage and recasts the traditional American narratives. He upends the notion of U.S. history as one that runs from East to West." Gregory Rodriguez, The Los Angeles Times Book Review
About the Author
"The best American essayist."
Richard Rodriguez is the author of Hunger of Memory, Brown, and Days of Obligation. He is a fellow of New America Media. He was a long-time contributor to PBS and continues to write for Harper's Magazine and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in San Francisco.
Table of Contents
The Triad of Alexis de Tocqueville, 1
In the Brown Study, 33
The Prince and I, 47
Poor Richard, 81
The Third Man, 125
Dreams of a Temperate People, 145
Gone West, 169
Peter's Avocado, 193
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History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Latin American
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