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Book Review

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As a young graduate student residing in Mexico City in the mid-1970s, I often wondered what it would be like to teach United States history to university students there. The challenges appeared formidable. Not only did it seem that anti-Yankeeism was an integral component of Mexican intellectual identity in the waning years of Luis Echeverría's presidency, but the major bookstores carried few assignable (or affordable) titles. A handsomely produced, hardback Spanish version of Samuel E. Morison and Henry S. Commager's The Growth of the American Republic, first published in English in 1930, was the only textbook consistently in stock, and there appeared to be little current work on mainstream topics in United States history by Mexicans. On subsequent visits to the capital, I encountered a one-volume Spanish paperback edition of the textbook compiled by Willi Paul Adams, Die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, along with relatively less costly Spanish translations of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America and a couple of Richard Hofstadter's books, but not much else. When I lectured at the University of Costa Rica in 1980, I was informed that the only available textbook in translation was Carl Degler et al., The Democratic Experience, which was distributed throughout Latin America, mainly under the auspices of the United States Information Agency (USIA). Since that time, I have been told that Spanish American university students of United States history are supposed to be fluent in English and therefore capable of reading the few prized library copies of untranslated textbooks, such as Bernard Bailyn et al., The Great Republic. I have also been reminded by colleagues that my experiences and perceptions are not unique, that they reflect, in the words of one, "a nearly universal phenomenon" in Latin America.




Oxford University Press

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Journal of American History

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