On the shelves of neighborhood bookshops and strip-mall superstores, one is likely to find an interesting selection of accessible titles making sense of a people living in the United States who trace a common ancestry to Latin America, individuals known variously as Latinas/os, Hispanics, or Latins. Stavans’s (2000) Latino USA: A Cartoon History tells a 500-year story with funny illustrations by the popular cartoonist Lalo Alcatraz. J.A.Gutiérrez’s (2001) tongue-in-cheek A Gringo Manual on How to Handle Mexicans sits alongside the earnest Complete Idiot’s Guide to Latino History and Culture by Figueredo (2002). After assuring his readers that they are not idiots after all,

Correspondence: Esteban del Río, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, University of San Diego, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110; email: edelrio@sandiego.edu

Communication Yearbook 30, pp. 387-429

Figueredo invites his amigos to “put on your sombrero and let’s head out to the barrio to find out more about Americans’ new compadres-about their culture and traditions, where they live and why, their social and economic realities, and even what they really look like” (p. 3). In the same section, one also likely discovers books displaying a different tone, including Ruiz’s (1999) From Out of the Shadows and Santa Ana’s (2002) Brown Tide Rising. These books detail the rise of Latinas/os within the historical and contemporary United States. Santa Ana described this rise as inspiring both “anxiety as well as interest about Latinos” (p. 3) during the culture wars of the early 1990s. As culture wars and identity politics become more complex than in decades past, curiosity and anxiety mix with celebration when writers and other cultural producers acknowledge and understand Latinas/os in bookstores and beyond.