In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. Read more...
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In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.
An epic history of global journeys and new beginnings, this book shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life in the United States: sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500s; indentured "coolies" who worked alongside African slaves in the Caribbean; and Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and South Asian immigrants who were recruited to work in the United States only to face massive racial discrimination, Asian exclusion laws, and for Japanese Americans, incarceration during World War II. Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. No longer a "despised minority," Asian Americans are now held up as America's "model minorities" in ways that reveal the complicated role that race still plays in the United States.
Published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the United States' Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that has remade our "nation of immigrants," this is a new and definitive history of Asian Americans. But more than that, it is a new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-08
- Reviewer: Staff
To honor the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, Lee (Angel Island), University of Minnesota historian and director of the Immigration History Research Center, tackles the sensitive subject of Asian-American assimilation in this ambitious, sweeping, and insightful survey. Charting the immigration story of individual nations rather than employing the “simplistic and monolithic ‘model minority’ lens,” Lee opens with 19th-century indentured servitude as Chinese “coolies” arrived in the Americas, and moves through the subsequent experiences of immigrants from Japan, Korea, and a range of South and Southeast Asian countries. Part two tracks each group’s struggle for acceptance, Part Three covers the impact of WWII, and Part Four addresses the 1.2 million displaced Southeast Asian refugees who settled in the U.S. after 1975. Lee brings her Chinese-American background into the mix, dating her roots to a great-great-great-grandfather who arrived during the California Gold Rush. As the rush wound down, the Chinese provided services such as laundries and restaurants—self-employment offering a solution to the harsh reality of workplace discrimination. Despite assimilation and socio-economic success, Lee reminds readers that “Asian Americans are seen as Asians, not Americans, and come to embody whatever threat the land of their ancestry allegedly poses to the United States.” Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Sept.)