Book Review:Multiple Origins, Uncertain Identities: Hispanics and the American Future


Book Title: Multiple Origins, Uncertain Identities (2006)

Author: The National Research Council of the National Academies

Review Rating:  4.75 out of 5 stars

Created by The United States National Research Council of the National Academies, Multiple Origins, Uncertain Identities is a six chapter book detailing the different variables that could impact American society as the Hispanic population transitions to become the majority in the United States. For such a concise little book, readers will be provided a wealth of data on the educational, occupational, and social changes that could potentially play a role in this transition. The chief focus of the book is to analyze and dissect the unique problems faced by the Hispanic population in the United States that stem from this culture’s unique identity, history, and characteristics. Different themes are explored in each chapter; however each chapter deals in some way with four basic questions:

  • The Identity Question: How should the United States classify people of Hispanic descent for research and governmental statistics (often used for programs, funding, etc.)?
  • The Immigration Question:How does the United States stop and manage undocumented immigrants while also providing legitimate citizenship options for those immigrants who want to become citizens?
  • The Language Question: What is the proper balance between accepting bilingualism and enforcing English language?
  • The Education Question:  What is the proper way to increase Hispanic participation in the US educational system given all of the problems that this system must face?

The book covers these questions from various different perspectives and vantage points. Since the book was created by a government agency, this book has all of the precision and organization of a government publication. Surprisingly, though, the language is more accessible than most other government publications and is actually an engaging read for people who would like a brief synopsis of potential challenges (and potential opportunities) for the Hispanic population.  With less than 130 pages of reading material, this book strikes the almost-perfect balance between being an easy read and an in-depth sociological report.


  • Authoritative research from a credible source
  • Concise & highly focused content
  • Good organization making it easy to navigate and retrieve information


  • Not a positive book-The book just states the facts, which doesn’t really focus on the strengths or resources of the Hispanic community.
  • No solutions provided in the book-While the book presents a lot of facts about the problems, it does not provide any information on possible solutions to the problems.

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