An Illustrated Contrarian U.S. History Book

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, discusses his new graphic novel, A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History Of The United States, an examination of U.S. history from a contrarian's perspective.


Ilan Stavans

Comments [11]

Shouldn't the headline read "graphic book?"

Is the headline writer unable to distinguish fiction from non-fiction. A graphic novel is one thing, a non-fiction graphic book is something else.

Where is the editorial and/or proofreading? It's necessary.

Jul. 10 2014 01:23 PM

Settler, immigrant, refugee are not semantic differences. Settlers are the original immigrants who found a nation[though other people may already live where they settle].
Considering that political uprisings have occurred across the globe both now and throughout history, the reality is all people recognize that sovereignty resides in them, not their governments.Though people may live under tyrannical governments or once in power become tyrannical themselves. ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the rise of the Taliban and Alquada are as much an expression of the belief in sovereignty of the people as our constitution is. That is not an exceptional American perspective; its a human perspective as old as mankind. The UK has no constitution yet respects individuals freedoms and rights. As do all democratic nations. That is the natural progression of technologically advanced educated societies.

Jul. 10 2014 11:57 AM

Dr. Stavans -

My personal view is that corporate America's desire to attract (or at least not scare off) immigrant spending are making Latinos appear to be 'punching above their weight' in terms of TV, advertising and the use of bi-lingual printing.

In large numbers, there are approx. 45 million out of (320 million) persons in the country of hispanic/Latino heritage. Somewhere between 8 and 12 million of them are here illegally. i.e. overstayed visas or illegal border crossing. (only 60% of our illegal population comes from south of the border.) So in round numbers that's 10-15%...That's it. Does that justify the number of Spanish language stations on radio and television? Does that mean that every school should have ESL programs? Does that mean that every menu item in a fast food restaurant or big box store should be in two languages? By making it easy for Spanish speaking people to 'get by' in the U.S.A, we have caused our own problem.

I do not consider myself anti-immigrant but I am anti-illegal immigrant. They are easily exploited and do great harm to the income power of the nations bottom two quintiles. I believe the nation should return to the pre-Reagan era immigration law. Workers could come and go across the border as they pleased and did not need to move their entire family. Also, I think that NAFTA has displaced many of the Mexican and Central American farm laborers who now need retraining. Rather than deal with the problem locally, those nations are (covertly and overtly) aiding their own populations to 'go north'.

American may one day be bilingual...but pretending that it already is just an example of NLP wish-bringing. Fake it 'til you make it...Whatever.

Jul. 10 2014 11:56 AM
Chriss from Montclair

There may be a point here- but this guest is so confused (and confusing) in his "grab-from-everywhere" references that add up to nothing.

Moreover, his silly understanding of Civil Rights, its history and why The Civil Rights Movement was in "Black and White" was stunning coming from someone who "taught for 20 years."

Finally, the more he speaks the dumber he sounds-- how is a "NATIVE" American less than a settler, or immigrant? He offered nothing but a long winded, convoluted answer.

He is, sadly, a typical academic bore.

Jul. 10 2014 11:38 AM
KT from BK

Why did you pose the question of a non-fiction being done in graphic novel format as if graphic novels can only be fiction? Graphic novel is just a medium or a means to tell a story whether fiction or non-fiction. There should be no distinction that graphic novels has to be fiction just like film doesn't have to be all fiction.

Jul. 10 2014 11:35 AM

Gary, you can say that if you want, and it may be true to you, but I'm positive that many in the south and west see it much differently and define exceptional way beyond the constitution.

Jul. 10 2014 11:34 AM

@Gary from Queens

"He pled not guilty to this (typical of Obama) selective prosecution. You disciples of Saul Alinski are always predictable..."

Did he? Are you and Jake S talking about the same incident?

And wtf did Obama have to do with this prosecution?

[Waiting for the next howler for BizarroLand]

Jul. 10 2014 11:34 AM

People really have a hard time accepting American history for what it is and was, warts and all. What, exactly, is the point here?

Jul. 10 2014 11:30 AM
gary from queens

@Jake s.

He pled not guilty to this (typical of Obama) selective prosecution.

You disciples of Saul Alinski are always predictable----personal attacks is all you have. nothing to argue in rebuttal. just defame the the person who contradicts you.

I got a life in the real world, so logging out now

Jul. 10 2014 11:13 AM
Jake S

Gary, you mean the movie that came out 2 years ago and whose director just pleaded guilty to fraud?

Jul. 10 2014 10:30 AM
gary from queens

HUH? A CONTRARIAN view?! Criticism of the US is the default view in college since i attended in the early 70s!

The mere fact that Dnesh D'Sousa's new documentary, "America", is making news is because any defense of the US is a rare event.

Americans don't claim to be perfect. American Exceptionalism has never signified THAT. What the term actually refers to is our Constitution, wherein sovereignty resides in the citizenry, and where the central government has solely enumerated powers, but with the consent of the governed. And the Bill of Rights.

America is exceptional because of that. Not because of the many mistakes that we, as a people, have made, or the many altruistic actions we've taken.

Jul. 10 2014 10:16 AM

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