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The World War I Diary of Jose de La Luz Saenz (C. A. Brannen) (C.A. Brannen Series) Paperback – 30 Apr 2014

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About the Author

Emilio Zamora is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. Recent publications include Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas: Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Seeds of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement 24 Sept. 2014
By Marco Antonio Abarca - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Soon after war was declared against Germany, Jose de la Luz Saenz volunteered to join the U.S. Army. Saenz was a teacher and family man from South Texas. He volunteered instead of waiting to be drafted because he wanted to show his patriotism and commitment to the country of his birth. During the Great War, Saenz kept a diary which he published in Spanish in1933.

Saenz' diary can be read on many different levels. At its core, Saenz' diary is a chronicle of his life as a front line American soldier fighting in the trenches of France. As an educated school teacher, Private Saenz was given the opportunity to work in his battalion's headquarters unit where he served as a French language translator. Although he was in a support unit, Saenz was up close to the fighting and experienced war in all of its random brutality. Jose de la Luz Saenz was a good writer and did a solid job of recounting his wartime experiences. The Great War produced many great first person narratives. As a diary, Saenz' work is good but not great.

The real value of Saenz' diary is as a political text. In 1917, Saenz was a member of Texas' very small Mexican American middle class. At that time, living conditions for Mexicans and Mexican Americans were especially difficult. The society was openly racist and very violent. Saenz saw military service during war as the catalyst that would change how Mexican people were treated in Texas. Taking up arms in service of the United States was a political action which would allow veterans and their families to assert that they were United States citizens with all the corresponding rights. These political themes run throughout Saenz' diary and that is what makes it such an interesting book.

The Great War changed conditions for Mexican Americans in Texas. It was Saenz and his generation of middle class war veterans who would go on to start the League of United Latin American Citizens. This organization was the first statewide Mexican American political organization in Texas. It would soon grow into other states and begin the fight for Mexican American civil rights. With Saenz' diary, the reader can read about the seeds that led to these changes. This is fascinating book and I highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent book of a WWI American soldier and married teacher 7 Oct. 2014
By Ramiro J. Molina - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't be scared by an American Hispanic last name. This is an excellent book of a WWI American soldier and married teacher. His daily record is not monotonous as one thinks. The details of an American soldier in WWI France is exceptional. One feels like you are right there experiencing the horrendous trench warfare and the landscape beauty Mr. Saenz describes in his diary.
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