Soldados Razos at War
Chicano Politics, Identity, and Masculinity in the U.S. Military from World War II to Vietnam
What were the catalysts that motivated Mexican American youth to enlist or readily accept their draft notices in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam? In Soldados Razos at War, historian and veteran Steven Rosales chronicles the experiences of Chicano servicemen who fought for the United States, explaining why these men served, how they served, and the impact of their service on their identity and political consciousness.
As a social space imbued with its own martial and masculine ethos, the U.S. military offers an ideal way to study the aspirations and behaviors that carried over into the civilian lives of these young men. A tradition of martial citizenship forms the core of the book. Using rich oral histories and archival research, Rosales investigates the military’s transformative potential with a particular focus on socioeconomic mobility, masculinity, and postwar political activism across three generations.
The national collective effort characteristic of World War II and Korea differed sharply from the highly divisive nature of American involvement in Vietnam. Thus, for Mexican Americans, military service produced a wide range of ideological reactions, with the ideals of each often in opposition to the others. Yet a critical thread connecting these diverse outcomes was a redefined sense of self and a willingness to engage in individual and collective action to secure first-class citizenship.
“This book expands on previous scholarship by focusing on the intersections of military service, citizenship, and manhood, which created spaces for Mexican Americans to confront the inequalities among their own communities throughout the United States.”—Choice
“Rosales’s book is the best work yet on Mexican Americans in the military and its impact on their persons and communities.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly
“Soldados Razos at War achieves the difficult task of explicating the manifold, at times contradictory, ways domestic and wartime military service shaped the lives and outlooks of Chicano GI’s without reverting to the hagiography characteristic of older models of military scholarship.”—Michigan Historical Review
“This will be the ‘go-to’ book for Latino military history for years to come. Rosales captures the voices and experiences of Latino veterans from World War II to Vietnam.”—Steve Estes, author of Charleston in Black and White: Race and Power in the South After the Civil Rights Movement
“Provides the most comprehensive account of Mexican Americans’ experiences in the U.S. military. Rosales nicely presents everyday soldiers’ stories while not losing sight of the G.I. Bill’s and the Veterans’ Administration’s roles in helping shape those lives. Soldados Razos at War highlights the struggles and triumphs of a group of individuals whose service has not only benefited Latino America but also the United States as a whole.”—Ernesto Chávez, author of The U.S. War with Mexico: A Brief History with Documents