Overlooking the significance of America's Hispanic past, the United States is typically perceived as an offshoot of Britain, with its history unfolding east to west, beginning with the first settlers in Jamestown. In an absorbing narrative, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto begins with the explorers and conquistadors who planted Spain's first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida and the Southwest in the sixteenth century. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain's expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling in California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies and charting the Pacific coast. The nineteenth-century triumph of Anglo-America in the West is followed by the twentieth-century Hispanic resurgence, spreading from the West to cities including Chicago, Miami and Boston. Today's plural America is the product of its past. A valuable contribution to those seeking a broader understanding of U.S. history. --Janet Napolitano"