José Martí, the United States, and Race by Anne Fountain

Dr. John Maddox


“Brevity is the source of wit,” claimed the Bard, and Argentine-American scholar Anne Fountain’s latest contribution to Martí studies, José Martí, the United States, and Race (UP of Florida, 2014), one of many, clearly exemplifies this adage. Almost any presentation or manual on how to turn a dissertation into a book conveys the same message: outside the most elite circles, academic books longer than 90,000 words are things of the past. The polysyllabic gobbledygook in which so many cultural studies scholars peddle simply does not sell. With an ever-smaller canvas on which to paint, one must choose her colors carefully. Fountain found a way to add many shades of Martí into her work, encapsulating the author’s entire twenty-seven volume oeuvre and adding perspective to a limpid, compelling argument: José Martí’s notions of race were, while sometimes inconsistent and contradictory, highly progressive and profoundly influenced by his exile in the United States, which lasted one third of his life. Overcoming racism was central to his vision for an independent Cuba and an autonomous Latin America. These arguments make the book relevant to scholars on Cuba, race, the African diaspora, Native Americans, and Latino studies.

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