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Mexico The Good Neighbor: Contracts, Betrayal and Survival in the Cold War – treads new ground, seeking to contribute to studies of the Spanish press in the United States by analyzing the daily events that shaped Mexican-American politics, leisure and intimate relations in the World War II and Cold War period through the analysis of the key immigrant press, La Opinion.

When Mexico joined other Latin American countries in declaring war on the Axis in June 1942, a wave of young Mexican citizens crossed the border to volunteer for service in the United States military. Over 300,000 Mexican Americans volunteered or were drafted into the military. They were recruited in farms and in high schools. They worked on railroads, in mines, in shipyards and airplane factories. These workers were crucial to the country’s wartime economy.

Mexicans joined the ranks of the National Guard, the Army reserve, enlisted in the United States Military and signed Bracero agricultural agreements to fill the labor gap created by wartime. They relocated north providing a service to the United States and laying community roots in the process.

They built barrios, neighborhoods that were underserved by government services and were dependent on strong social and family networks and on their Spanish press. In Los Angeles, the newspaper La Opinion, became an indispensable immigrant support and coping tool that helped Mexicans navigate a complex U.S. society in Cold War America. La Opinion editors and columnists felt a deep sorrow and sympathy for the suffering of Mexicans in the United States at a time when the barrios were surrounded by a hostile society that viewed them as dangerous, suspect to communism and as a public charge.

La Opinion embraced braceros and welcomed its veterans fighting alongside them during the racially charged period of immigration exclusion that followed World War II. The Spanish press formed part of the complex network that supported Mexican labor migration in the U.S. Southwest. As an immigrant labor press, the paper recorded the history of the everyday lives of Mexican Americans during the Cold-War period.

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Family Portraits in Global History, An Oral History Collection – is a work of love; it’s about writing family history, writing memoir, and writing about place.

Arranged into Three Themes: Survivor Narratives, The Wars, and Phenomenal Women, the collection chronicles memories that humanize and expand the historical record and meet a deep need for the older generation to tell their story for posterity.

This valuable acquisition will enrich your current collection, benefit your student population, stimulate classroom discussion and offer a memorable writing and research assignment that your students and their families will not forget.

Family Portraits In Global Perspectives showcases a collection of vivid and touching memoirs of the surprising lives of ordinary elders from across the globe. Surviving the Great Depression, WWII, the Vietnam War, famines, migration & poverty, the collection will move and inspire your students to chronicle their elders’ histories for posterity.

The memoirs were recorded, translated and written by university students under my guidance, and based on an oral history assignment that I designed, which is also described in the book. Sample oral history questions are also included. The narratives capture transnational accounts of lived experiences during pivotal world events dating back to the 1920’s through contemporary times. The topics in this volume include intimate accounts of the Great Depression, the Civil Rights era, World War II, Latin American history, military coup d’états, natural disasters, communism, and migration.

The collection of memoirs showcased in Family Portraits reflects student diversity, spanning many cultures, and including diverse regions of the United States, Mexico, China, Japan, Greece, Korea, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Philippines, Nepal, Burma, and Malaysia.

The oral histories offer a space from where to empathize with the everyday realities of the previous generations, and the many resourceful ways in which our ancestors lived their lives.

Overwhelmingly, students who conducted these oral histories were surprised by the memories shared by their grandparents and the elders in their families. The assignment brought them closer together, deepened their understanding of family and created a lasting bond.

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