Puerto Rico in the American Century

A History since 1898

By César J. Ayala, Rafael Bernabe

448 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 35 illus., 5 maps, 3 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5954-4
    Published: February 2009
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9553-5
    Published: June 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7791-8
    Published: June 2009

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Offering a comprehensive overview of Puerto Rico's history and evolution since the installation of U.S. rule, César Ayala and Rafael Bernabe connect the island's economic, political, cultural, and social past. Puerto Rico in the American Century explores Puerto Ricans in the diaspora as well as the island residents, who experience an unusual and daily conundrum: they consider themselves a distinct people but are part of the American political system; they have U.S. citizenship but are not represented in the U.S. Congress; and they live on land that is neither independent nor part of the United States.

Highlighting both well-known and forgotten figures from Puerto Rican history, Ayala and Bernabe discuss a wide range of topics, including literary and cultural debates and social and labor struggles that previous histories have neglected. Although the island's political economy remains dependent on the United States, the authors also discuss Puerto Rico's situation in light of world economies. Ayala and Bernabe argue that the inability of Puerto Rico to shake its colonial legacy reveals the limits of free-market capitalism, a break from which would require a renewal of the long tradition of labor and social activism in Puerto Rico in connection with similar currents in the United States.

About the Authors

César J. Ayala is professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of American Sugar Kingdom: The Plantation Economy of the Spanish Caribbean, 1898-1934.

For more information about César J. Ayala, visit the Author Page.

Rafael Bernabe is professor and director of the Federico de Onís Hispanic Studies Center at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras. He has published three books in Puerto Rico.
For more information about Rafael Bernabe, visit the Author Page.


"Not only an excellent introduction to the island for the nonexpert but it is also of value to scholars who are searching for new topics to research on Puerto Rican history and the Puerto Rican diaspora. . . . An excellent contribution to the general history of Puerto Rico during the twentieth century."--Hispanic American Historical Review

"A comprehensive historical picture of political developments in the island. . . . By taking the courageous step of restoring economic dependence and its social consequences to the heart of the argument for autonomy—and, in effect, pitting it against more inventive, and often elitist cultural perspectives that range from the neo-nationalist to the post-modern—Puerto Rico in the American Century offers a far more plausible context for understanding the status issue, while offering a far more tolerable, democratic direction for the independence movement in a globalised world."—Latin American Review of Books

"Indispensable."—Edgardo Rodriguez Julia, Primera Revista Latinoamerican de Libros

"An exciting . . . volume that stimulates as well as informs; students and scholars on all levels will find much to discuss. . . . Highly recommended."—CHOICE

"Politics, economics and culture are in constant dialogue within the narrative . . . providing a complex and at many points refreshing perspective of Puerto Rican history."—Against the Current

"Academics, students, and general readers will find this book a helpful tool to probe the intricacies of Puerto Rican history. . . . A provocative. . . . [and] landmark work."—Pedro San Miguel, Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies