Mike Davis is our premier bare-knuckled Marxist-savant polemicist, doing prodigious amounts of research on important topics and writing in a molten style that literally pulls your eyes down the page. For these reasons alone, attention must be paid. (This is difficult advice to a nation of "comfort readers," who--far from being provoked by their nighttime reading--love to curl up with a good Danielle Steele until the Sandman comes.) Whatever other functions a Davis book serves, it's an in-your-face test of the reader's mettle. ...
Davis paints what seems to me a more than plausible vision of a Hispanic/Latino future that I'll bet you haven't given much thought to (unless you live in SoCal or along the southern border). One useful thing about demography is that a simple extrapolation will get the analyst to several plausible hypotheses about things to come. This is one service Davis has performed. One of the useful mental exercises Davis sends you off on once he makes his preliminary case (of a Latino/Hispanic plurality by 2050) prompts you to comtemplate the coming contours of national level politics, immigration policy, relations with Central and Latin America--in other words, this book can rattle your mental universe. And his chapter on "transnational suburbs"--in which he analyzes bilocated Latino communities that, in our internet and cheap-transportation age, retain a deep involvement in both their native and immigrant communities--is, for me, worth the price of the book.
This is a useful tutorial about the drift of our demographic destiny in a "globalized" world, but the picture Davis paints is by no means inevitable. Second and third generation immigrant communities tend to assimilate to the dominant culture through a variety of means (although Davis tends to argue that contemporary immigrant communities are driven by walls of discrimination back upon themselves in ways earlier immigrants in the second and third generations were not). The future is seldom, in any significant respect, a straight-line extrapolation of any trend. And Davis's great hope for the mobilization of the heretofore inchoate political might of the new immigrant communities--a revivified labor movement--seems, at best, a pipe dream, but one that more than a few commentators see well within the realm of possibility, as income differentials widen and a pronounced underclass sentiment proliferates among the have-nots.
In all, a quick, stimulating, worthy read. And for those parents who wonder which language little Johnny should study in high school, or in his language immersion pre-school, David would probably say--and I'd have to agree--Spanish is a good choice. Venceremos!