El Norte


El Norte is my second book, out now in the United States (published by Grove Atlantic), Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand (Grove UK). You can read an extract on Literary Hub.

¡Se puede leer en español también!

It was shortlisted for the Mark Lynton History Prize in January 2020, and it was also chosen by Remezcla as a Top 10 ‘Best Latino & Latin American History Book’ for 2019 and by the Latin Post as one of the ‘Best Hispanic Books of 2020’.

For a little background on what led me to write this book, here is a brief Q&A I did with Publishers Weekly.

For a longer interview, I spoke to Jezebel. You can read our exchange here. I also discussed the book with the Albuquerque Journal.

You can watch me talk about El Norte on CSPAN-2’s Book TV at the 2019 Southern Festival of Books in Nashville.

You can also listen to me talk about the book by clicking on the following links:

Talking History with Patrick Geoghegan on Newstalk (Dublin) (25 May, Best of May – Part 2, at 17:45)

Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand

Scenic Roots with Ray Bassett (WUTC)

•  Leonard Lopate at Large (WBAI)

• 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)

• ¡En Español! Escucha La Voz con Mariel Fiori (Radio Kingston 107.9FM/1490AM)

• Versus History podcast (episode 67).

The Hour of History podcast (episode 81)

• I also had shorter interviews on Texas Standard (I’m at the 32:00 mark); KJZZ Phoenix; and KSFR Santa Fe’s The Last Word show.

If you’re interested in my sources, you can download the entire bibliography in Word or PDF formats here.

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.’

History Today: ‘El Norte is an important rejoinder to the mainstream, “Waspish” histories of the US that prioritise English pioneers over their Spanish counterparts … Gibson’s book is a scholarly, compelling case for reassessing the Hispanic role in US history.’

TLS: Gibson ‘provides a detailed and anecdote-rich summary of how far back the Hispanic presence goes in what is now the US, how extensive and wide-ranging it remains, and how complex it will continue to be.’

Foreign Affairs: A ‘sweeping journey’ that ‘intends to reinsert the Hispanic past into the memories and imaginations of contemporary Americans. ’

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.’

The Arts Fuse:  ‘This is a historical synthesis which, expanded upon and applied across different time periods, suggests a new Pan-Americanism, a hemispheric paradigm of the global pueblo.’

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’.

America (The Jesuit Review):  ‘Telling the entire 500-year history of Spanish-speaking peoples in what is now the United States in a single volume is rarely attempted, and Gibson is bold to do it.’

Sunday Business Post (Ireland, paywall): ‘The author … takes an obvious pleasure in puncturing myths.’

i (London): Selected as one of its ‘30 books for autumn 2019’: ‘Few history books are as timely as Gibson’s detailed study.’

BBC History Magazine (paywall): ‘Gibson’s book is a lucid, compelling and wide-ranging analysis, which reminds us all of the enduring importance of “Hispanic North America”.’

Survival: Global Politics and Strategy: ’Through her impressive research and enthralling prose, Gibson … presents a rich history that has too often been left untold.’

Both Newsday and Arab News recommended El Norte in their ‘what to read’ columns. El Norte also heads a list of ‘7 Books on Spain’s History in the U.S’ on the Spanish Embassy’s Spain in the USA blog.

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