Richard H. Peterson, Book Review Editor
Portuguese Immigrants: The Centennial Story of the Portuguese Union of the State of California.
By Carlos Almeida. San Leandro: Supreme Council of U.P.E.C., 1978. Bibliography. Illustrations. Appendices. Index. $12.50 Cloth, $6.50 Paper.
Reviewed by Rhoda E. Kruse, formerly Senior Librarian, California Room, San Diego Public Library. Author of historical essays and book reviews.
Although Mr. Almeida’s book was written to coincide with the one hundredth anniversary of the Portuguese Union, it should have timeless value for several possible readerships. Primary among these will be the genealogists. Detailed, portrait-illustrated biographical sketches of the Union’s past and present officers and other dignitaries comprise almost half of the book. Though not as lengthy as the sketches appearing in “mug-book”-type county histories, most of the entries contain names of parents, wives, and children. College students working in ethnic history also will find the book a positive Mother Lode of ideas and avenues for research, since in many cases the author supplies a great deal of information even on peripheral subjects.
Unfortunately, the general reader will not find the book as interesting or as valuable. The early chapters contain material on the history of the Azores, Azorean Portuguese participation in the New England whaling industry, and the Portuguese migrations to Hawaii and Canada. Had the author condensed this section, and continued in more general terms with the history of the Portuguese Union, his book would have had a wider appeal. The narrative section is top-heavy with personal names and with accounts of internecine jealousies. When combined with the author’s long, often confusing sentences, this makes for dull reading. Also on the minus side is the appalling number of typographical errors. In addition, the author makes heavy use of abbreviations and seldom explains their meaning. Those “in the know” will not suffer, but the general reader will be confused. Both members and Portuguese non-members of the Portuguese Union, as well as the aforementioned students and genealogists, will want to read Mr. Almeida’s book. However, this reviewer cannot honestly recommend it to a wider readership.