Hilton, Ronald 1911-2007

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Hilton, Ronald 1911-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born July 31, 1911, in Torquay, England; died of cancer, February 20, 2007, in Palo Alto, CA. Educator and author. A scholar of Latin America, Hilton was the founder of Stanford University's Institute of Hispanic American Studies and was remembered for alerting newspapers about the planned U.S. invasion of Cuba in 1961. A graduate of Oxford University, where he earned an M.A. in 1936, he also studied at the Sorbonne, University of Madrid, University of Perugia, and University of California during the 1930s. While in Spain, he was director of the Comite Hispano Ingles Library in Madrid and was in that country during its civil war. He left Europe for Canada just as World War II was about to begin, and taught modern languages at the University of British Columbia for two years. Hilton moved to California in 1942 to join the Stanford faculty as an associate professor. By 1949 he was a professor of Romance languages, and he remained at Stanford until his 1976 retirement. It was while on a research trip to Guatemala in 1960 that Hilton learned about U.S. plans to prepare Cuban exiles for an invasion of Cuba. The plan, backed by the CIA, was well known to Guatemalans at the time, the story even being published in a local newspaper. Hilton told the story to American newspapers because he believed, correctly, that it was a bad idea. To his disappointment, only a few publications printed it, and the 1961 invasion, known as the Bay of Pigs, was a complete disaster that helped solidify Fidel Castro's position as communist leader. Hilton's story first was printed in the Hispanic American Report, a journal published by the Institute of Hispanic American Studies that he founded in 1945. After retiring as professor emeritus in 1976, Hilton focused on directing his World Association of International Studies, which he had founded in 1965. He was still writing for and working with the association almost until the time of his death. Hilton was the author or editor of a number of books about Latin America. Among these are The Movement toward Latin American Unity (1969), The Latin Americans: Their Heritage and Their Destiny (1973), and A Bibliography of Latin America and the Caribbean: The Hilton Library (1980).



Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2007, p. B11.

New York Times, February 24, 2007, p. B10.