Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor
Mexican American Biographies: A Historical Dictionary, 1836-1987.
By Matt S. Meier. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1988. Index. 270 Pages. $45.00.
There are a number of things about Matt Meier’s dictionary of Mexican American biographies which you can quibble about. Why is Mario T. Garcia listed, and Ricardo Griswold del Castillo not? Why is Carlos Cortéz listed under “Education, Scholarship,” and Ramón Ruiz (who is a more prolific scholar) listed under “Education, Teaching?” Why does the index fail to include places? For instance, both Andres and Pio Pico were from San Diego, but there is no listing under “San Diego” in the index. This greatly reduces the usefulness of the dictionary as a reference book. Instead of focusing on the defects of the book, perhaps we should be thankful for what we do have. The dictionary gives us biographical sketches of about 280 people. They are arranged alphabetically, and average about a page in length. The sketches are well written and include pertinent biographical information as well as effective placement of the subject in the context of his or her times. The entries all end with a bibliography for further reading. This dictionary clearly makes a major contribution to those studying American history, and should have a place in any reference library of consequence in the San Diego area.