Language, translation, and creative writing figure importantly in Chasteen’s work. His books Heroes on Horseback: A Life and Times of the Last Gaucho Caudillos (University of New Mexico Press, 1995), National Rhythms, African Roots: The Deep History of Latin American Popular Dance (University of New Mexico Press, 2004), and Americanos: Latin America’s Struggle for Independence (Oxford University Press, 2008) combine historical interpretation with non-fiction storytelling. Chasteen’s translations from Portuguese and Spanish include works of scholarship, historically significant Latin American fiction, and collections of primary source documents. He has written two historical screenplays, including a bilingual adaptation of W. H. Hudson’s 1885 novel, The Purple Land that England Lost. Chasteen’s concise survey text, Born in Blood and Fire (W. W. Norton, third edition forthcoming) is used at over 450 colleges and universities.
As a graduate adviser, Chasteen likes topics off the beaten path (which is where he finds his own), he is more the coach than the authority, and he pays special attention to writing technique. He welcomes inquiries from prospective graduate students interested in any part of nineteenth-century Latin America.