Book Review: Mexifornia

Mexifornia:  A State Of Becoming, by Victor Davis Hanson

I have definitely mixed thoughts about the author of this book [1], and my thoughts and feelings about this book are probably about as positive as possible for this author’s work.  The author shows himself as a simple California farmer and classics professor, struggling in his own quixotic way with the massive population expansion of illegal Mexican immigrants into his beloved state, which has had drastic and immensely negative consequences for the well-being of the state as a whole, even if the political elites have so far been able to shield themselves against it.  Reading this book, one gets the feeling that the author is trying to play up his populist appeal as much as possible by pointing out that it is out-of-touch political and economic elites that have combined to support illegal immigration at the expense of the common citizen of the country, no matter the color.  Part memoir and part political editorial spread out over around 150 or so pages, this book is definitely a worthwhile and quirky one, and anyone who wishes to say something intelligent about the immigration debate in contemporary American should give this book and its argument a serious look.

Given the short contents of this book, it is perhaps unsurprising that there are only a few chapters here.  After a preface and introduction, the author comments on what makes the current immigration problem with Mexico so much different than previous periods of mass immigration, which were more discrete than continuous and from a much further distance away, with a culture in the United States committed firmly to assimilation.  The author then looks at the universe of the illegal alien and points out how envy and discontent fester in that shadowy world.  The author then talks about the mind of the host and tries to get at what people are looking for from illegal immigrants–namely cheap labor (for business owners of various kinds) and reliable voters (for Democrats).  The author looks back to his own childhood in looking at the old simplicity that worked in getting immigrants acculturated and successful.  The author then turns his attention to the new multiculturalism and how it has totally failed to provide even a basic degree of education or potential for advancement to contemporary immigrants.  After this the author looks at popular culture and its potential to provide at least some insight into American culture before providing his own options that Americans should choose from in an epilogue.

There are a great many moments in this book that make the author appear a bit more human.  It is almost entertaining to read him complain of how he has to deal with grumpy and entitled immigrants who disrespect property rights and seem entirely unfamiliar with the golden rule or how it is to be applied in respecting others as you wish for respect yourself.  I happened to find the book a mixture between humorous and poignant while always remaining pointed.  By and large, I happen to agree with the author’s analysis, which is worth something.  It is amazing how positively one can think and feel of a Victor Davis Hanson book–not something I am used to thinking or feeling–when one’s positive feelings come from agreement between reader and writer.  For those who disagree with this book’s arguments, I wonder how the human touch of Hanson as a small-time farmer will influence the perception that people have of the book, and if the populist touches of the author will mean to anyone who is outside of the crowd of those who are guarded at best about the issue of America’s contemporary attitudes towards immigration and our lack of interest in assimilation.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review: Mexifornia

  1. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings and commented:
    Reblogging for future reference (not necessarily agreement with the book):

  2. Pingback: Gangster Blues | Edge Induced Cohesion

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