Juan Gonzalez

Harvest Of Empire

  • 56-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 14 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a professional writer with an MFA in Creative Writing
Access Full Summary

Harvest Of Empire Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 56-page guide for “Harvest Of Empire” by Juan Gonzalez includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 14 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Dueling Narratives: The American Dream and the American Nightmare and The Us/Them Dichotomy.

Plot Summary

Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America (2000, revised 2011), authored by Juan Gonzalez, is a comprehensive account of the intersection of Latin-American history with United States history. Immigration is one of the biggest issues facing America, and the debate over immigration reform has suffered from relentless propaganda, mythologizing, and stereotyping, resulting in much fear, anxiety, and anger. Gonzalez seeks to reveal the story hidden behind many of these stereotypes as he explores over 500 years of history, providing readers with a fuller and more honest account of the past.

Harvest of Empire is divided into three sections: “Roots,” “Branches,” and “Harvest.” In the “Roots” section, Gonzalez covers the colonial period from 1500-1800, focusing on the two colonizing powers that came to dominate the hemisphere: the Spanish and the English. The author contrasts the two, raising the question of why English colonies became successful while the Spanish colonies fragmented. Rather than attribute English success to the often touted “Protestant work ethic,” the author points out that the domination is a direct cause of the Anglo settlers consistently seizing more and more Latino land. This perpetual territorial expansion, justified under the idea of “Manifest Destiny,” persisted throughout colonial history, as America acquired Florida, then Texas, and, through the Mexican War, the territory now included in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming, as well as lands won in the Spanish-American War.

The American victory over Spain in 1898, which awarded the United States the last Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines, marked a new stage in Anglo-American aggression. In the 20th century, America no longer sought to expand its territories through land seizures; instead, America now focused on controlling its Latin American neighbors by controlling their economies. A wave of American companies established dominion over Latin America for the next century. In supporting United States businesses in Latin America, American administrations often supported ruthless dictators who, despite their horrific human rights abuses, were seen as reliable in supporting American companies. This situation, which was repeated in many different countries throughout the Caribbean and Central America, resulted in a flood of migrants to the United States, the majority of whom came seeking relief from poverty and brutality.

In the “Branches” section of Harvest of Empire, the author traces the factors that resulted in the separate odysseys for the people of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Colombia. In each section, the author highlights an individual to focus on, someone who can be seen as a representative or a leader for his or her community. Gonzalez tells the story of the country through that person, personalizing the often bleak and tragic accounts of each country as each was transformed into an economic satellite of the United States.

The “Harvest” section focuses on the most important trends, issues, and problems facing Latino Americans today. The post-9/11 world has made immigration an even more pressing issue. Politicians promising to secure the borders against terrorism must figure out how to treat those who cross the border, legally or illegally. The author’s thesis emphasizes that people from many Latin-American countries have been forced to migrate to the United States as a direct result of American interventions in their native countries. As such, America must find a fair way to create a solution that recognizes American responsibility for the destabilization, poverty, and violence that immigrants are fleeing.

There is hope that just such a comprehensive solution is possible. The Latino-American population is growing and is already one-third of the American population. As more immigrants arrive and as more people descended from Latin-American immigrants find their voices, they will be able to work together to advocate for better solutions.

This is just a preview. The entire section has 699 words. Click below to download the full study guide for Harvest Of Empire.

Part 1