For a little background on what led me to write this book, here is a brief Q&A I did with Publishers Weekly.
You can also listen to me talk about the book. I had an hour-long chat with Leonard Lopate on his WBAI show, and there are other in-depth discussions about El Norte on KSFR Sante Fe’s The Last Word show; on The Club with Lucas Avram Cavazos on Radio Kanal Barcelona (in English – listen here and make sure to click on episode 26.02.2019 and I’m about 27 minutes into the broadcast); and on the Versus History podcast (episode 67). I also had shorter interviews on Texas Standard (I’m at the 32:00 mark) and KJZZ Phoenix.
Reviews of El Norte
New York Times: ‘This is history as dialogue. It leaves the mourning authority of archives and takes its place as a long conversation, presupposing that truth can be reached through an extended pilgrimage, a journey through violence, discrimination, racism, exploitation and the inferno created by occupation. The narrative becomes not a tribunal but a hospice to language, shelter to the loss of meaning imposed by violence.’
The Guardian: ‘Gibson’s sprawling work makes a major contribution … Her rich account leaves no doubt that America is a vastly more interesting place because of the millions of Hispanic immigrants who have been arriving on our shores for more than 600 years.’
Booklist (starred review): ‘Gibson’s exhaustively researched and well-written chronicle is an essential acquisition for all American history collections.’
Publishers Weekly (starred review): ‘This unusual and insightful work provides a welcome and thought-provoking angle on the country’s history, and should be widely appreciated.’ PW made El Norte a Top 10 History pick for spring 2019.
Kirkus: ‘Gibson soundly concludes that the history of the Spanish “is central to how the United States has developed and will continue to develop,” lending further utility to her work.’
Washington Independent Review of Books: ‘From today’s vantage point, very little of this complex and often bloody saga is admirable or inspiring. Still, Gibson tells it with authoritative gusto and in exhaustively researched detail.’
The New Yorker: ‘At a time when the building of walls occupies so much attention, Gibson makes a case for the blurring of boundaries.’
Wall Street Journal (paywall): Gibson ‘writes engagingly of moments of violence and injustice, deprivation and discrimination, music and muses’.
New York Review of Books (paywall): Gibson has a ‘vivid topographical sense, aided by the fact that she appears to have visited most of the places about which she writes … But while dwelling on particular episodes, she does not forget the overarching purpose of her book.’
The Washington Times: ‘a diligent, informative and highly readable chronicle’.
Praise for El Norte
‘In this enlightening and exhaustively researched work, Carrie Gibson has accomplished the monumental task of recovering an extraordinary and consequential Hispanic past traditionally written out of American history. Her narrative is far reaching, vividly detailed, and a gift to assessing the American experience and evolving identity.’ – Jack E. Davis, author of The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea
‘Carrie Gibson has written an epic history which will significantly change the way we look at American history, from the Georgia in which she grew up to the California coast. She chronicles the way in which Hispanic people–Spanish, Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican–shaped places like the American South and Southwest in a way not captured by our standard narrative, which inaccurately relies overly on British colonization and America’s westward expansion. In so doing, she challenges and dispels the stereotypes of the ‘Black Legend, ‘ which has cast Hispanics as villains in the American story, either cruel or incompetent or both. Along the way, she takes the readers on Spanish travels to the Chesapeake and Canada as well as settlements that stand to this day, from New Madrid, Missouri to Mesilla, New Mexico and Tampa. Her research is meticulous in detail and her writing propels the reader through 500 years to transport them to today.’ – Richard Parker, author of Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America
‘A sweeping story of our Hispanic roots that links the dreamers of the Conquest with the Dreamers of the present, ranging across a continent’s history from first contacts in Florida to intersecting empires on Vancouver Island. In connecting places across the United States with their Hispanic pasts, Carrie Gibson connects our America with what one Cuban called Nuestra América, blurring borders at a time when others are building them up.’ ―Paul Gillingham, author of Cuauhtémoc’s Bones