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Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans

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In an extraordinary blend of eloquent narrative history, vivid personal recollection, and oral testimony, Ronald Takaki relates the diverse 150-year history of Asian Americans. Through richly detailed vignettes--by turns bitter, funny, and inspiring--he offers a stunning panorama of a neglected part of American history. 16 pages of photographs.


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In an extraordinary blend of eloquent narrative history, vivid personal recollection, and oral testimony, Ronald Takaki relates the diverse 150-year history of Asian Americans. Through richly detailed vignettes--by turns bitter, funny, and inspiring--he offers a stunning panorama of a neglected part of American history. 16 pages of photographs.

30 review for Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans

  1. 5 out of 5

    l.

    Issues that I had with this book: 1. This book is 491 pages long. Of these, only 24 were spent discussing the experiences of Indian Americans. Was it because Takaki exhaustively covers all Asian immigration to America? No. It's because the book focuses heavily on Japanese, Chinese and Korean immigrants, with lesser amounts of time being spent on Filipino immigrants and as said, 24 pages on Indian Americans. I suppose there are also some short write ups on the experiences of refugees from Vietnam Issues that I had with this book: 1. This book is 491 pages long. Of these, only 24 were spent discussing the experiences of Indian Americans. Was it because Takaki exhaustively covers all Asian immigration to America? No. It's because the book focuses heavily on Japanese, Chinese and Korean immigrants, with lesser amounts of time being spent on Filipino immigrants and as said, 24 pages on Indian Americans. I suppose there are also some short write ups on the experiences of refugees from Vietnam (12 pages), Laos (8 pages) and Cambodia (4 pages) towards the end of the book but again, the brevity makes me question Takaki's priorities in writing this book. If he wanted to write a book solely on East Asian immigration to America, he should have done so. 2. South Asian Americans were consistently referred to as 'Asian-Indians' in this book and only on page 447 (the second of the two sections that discuss South Asian immigrants in any form, the first being from 294-314) was it inadvertently revealed that Takaki chose this appellation because it was the official census category in 1981, presumably to distinguish South Asian Americans from indigenous peoples. I'm not sure of the politics involved in referring to indigenous peoples in America as 'Indians' but I think that just because a census 8 years prior to publication of your book chose to refer to a group of people with an inappropriate label as reaction to a outdated and racist label, doesn't mean it's the one that you, as a professor of ethnography should also use. 3. The chapter dealing with 'Asian-Indians': '"The Tide of Turbans"': Asian Indians in America." The title dealing with Filipino Americans: "Dollar a Day, Dime a Dance: the Forgotten Filipinos." In contrast, the chapters dealing with East Asians were: "Ethnic Solidarity: The Settling of Japanese America"; "Ethnic Islands: The Emergence of Urban Chinese America"; and "Struggling Against Colonialism: Koreans in America." I have been known to overreact, but I'm pretty sure there's a tone of respectfulness in the titles dealing with East Asians that's distinctly lacking in the chapters re: Indians and Filipinos. 4. It's the content too. Why is the Ghadar movement covered in less than one page while the chapter on Korean Americans emphasizes their anti-colonial actions? I suppose it could be because the Korean American anti-colonial movement concerns the interactions of Japanese Americans and Korean Americans but still! Also rme to the skies at the bit where Takaki writes about how Filipino men had an advantage over East Asian immigrants with women because they had been schooled by the Spanish in romance, just jfc. Maybe Filipino men were better able to breach the cultural divide with white women because of their exposure to Spanish culture but why would you word it like that. What is this, 'Oh thank you kind colonial masters for teaching us the arts of love' tone. Just... 5. Quoting immigrants' interviews/memoirs/creative works is fantastic. I'm glad that Takaki makes such good use of these valuable sources but at the same time, when a person gives you this narrative wherein he presents on the one hand, this evil white woman who ruins a strike using her feminine wiles and proclaims that she did it because, "I hate Filipinos as deeply as I hate unions! You are all savages!", and on the other, this saintly prostitute ("the song of my dark hour") who rescues the narrator after he's been attacked by racist thugs, feeds him, shelters him, drives him where he wants him to go, gives him all her money ("Now you can go to university. Nearly three hundred dollars. All for you") and dies shortly after, you've got to wonder, to what extent is this more part of the narrator's personal mythology than his history? Sentimental stories with good-hearted prostitutes that die for our sins, where are we, in a Dostoevsky novel? Switch the ending - let the prostitute live, make the narrator bring her a sewing machine and marry her, and there we are: Chernyshevsky revisited! But Takaki looks at this and goes, see, white woman 1, "represented America's mean and exclusionist spirit" while white woman 2 "personified America's sympathy and softness." Just nope. 6. He does that thing students do where when they're unsure of how their paper ties together and so repeat one 'key' phrase 500 times in order to create a sense of connection between the points made. In Takaki's case, it's the phrase 'strangers from another shore' though he switches it up and sometimes just reminds us that the immigrants are treated like 'strangers' or that they're perceived as being forever 'from another shore.' And it's ridiculous because the idea that Takaki is trying to convey - that the racist reception of white Americans to Asian immigrants was in large part responsible for their 'alienation' from American society, the fact of which created more prejudices among white Americans about Asian Americans' failure to integrate - couldn't be clearer or more obvious. And yet five pages don't go by without Takaki invoking the fact of Asian Americans being 'strangers from another shore.' Stoooooooop. 7. There's this moment where Takaki writes that among the many abuses this Japanese immigrant suffered, he was "even" called 'a chink'. Why is there this 'even'? Is it really surprising that someone who would use a racial epithet wouldn't know or care about the differences between East Asians? There's no 'even' when Takaki talks about how 'Asian Indians' and Filipinos were called the n-word. Idk, it's just one of those details that catch your attention and seem to confirm the suspicions you had about the writer, even though they're not really demonstrative of anything. But despite these things, it's a good history of East Asians in America.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John Lim

    A thoughtfully written history of Asian-American migration, especially in the discussion of migration from SE Asia (Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia). It's unnerving to think about how much of the Asian diasporic experience is grounded in war: the Korean War, World War II, the Vietnam War, the "Secret War" in Laos. Takaki also has a great discussion of affirmative action and the "model minority" myth. My only qualm: how Takaki uses the phrase "strangers from a different shore" ~every four pages. A thoughtfully written history of Asian-American migration, especially in the discussion of migration from SE Asia (Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia). It's unnerving to think about how much of the Asian diasporic experience is grounded in war: the Korean War, World War II, the Vietnam War, the "Secret War" in Laos. Takaki also has a great discussion of affirmative action and the "model minority" myth. My only qualm: how Takaki uses the phrase "strangers from a different shore" ~every four pages.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Dhu

    Ronald Takaki's Strangers from a Different Shore is a history of Asian-Americans. I wish I could find something similar that deals with the history of Asian communities in Canada, because one thing I do know is that while some of the patterns of immigration and exclusion are the same - from the early use of East Asians as a cheap, expendable labour force, to the incarceration of Japanese immigrants in interment camps, and much that happened in-between - the shared Commonwealth membership of Cana Ronald Takaki's Strangers from a Different Shore is a history of Asian-Americans. I wish I could find something similar that deals with the history of Asian communities in Canada, because one thing I do know is that while some of the patterns of immigration and exclusion are the same - from the early use of East Asians as a cheap, expendable labour force, to the incarceration of Japanese immigrants in interment camps, and much that happened in-between - the shared Commonwealth membership of Canada and some Asian nations made for different immigration patterns, and the overall proportion of people of Asian background in the general population is greater in Canada than in the US (around 12 percent, compared to around six percent). But there are many books I want to read about Canada that haven't been written, or if they have been, aren't accessible. Back to Ronald Takaki's study of Asian-Americans. Takaki begins by noting that Asian-Americans have been left out of the popular concept of what it means to be American. For many people, "American" means white; it may be accompanied by "African-American", but rarely does it encompass the notion of "Asian-American." Nor does the popular immigration narrative of Asians in American match that of the European immigrant - the first sight of Lady Liberty, the arrival at Ellis Island. As Takaki stresses, Asian Americans are strangers from a different shore - the countries of the Pacific Rim and South Asia - but they also arrived at a different shore - some in Hawaii, some the West coast. And unlike many European arrivals who assimilated, often within a generation, Asian Americans remain in some ways strangers in the land they have been born in. Takaki's project is a large and complicated one - looking at the immigration of so many diverse groups - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Indian, and others - across American history. But even among the differences, some threads connect the experiences of most groups. The early history of Asian immigrants in Hawaii and the Western states is one of being seen as the answer to a growing demand for cheap labour. Not only could Asian workers be employed in agricultural and other areas where many whites would not work, they could be paid far less than white labourers. White farm owners and other large-scale employers used Asian immigrants to discourage union organising among white workers, and hired Asian workers (along with Mexican and Puerto Rican workers) from different nations to discourage solidarity: "...the California Department of Industrial Relations reported that growers preferred to employ 'a mixture of laborers of various races, speaking diverse languages, and not accustomed to mingling with each other. The practice [was] intended to avoid labor trouble which might result from having a homogeneous group of laborers of the same race or nationality. Laborers speaking different languages [were] not as likely to arrive at a mutual understanding which would lead to strikes.' " White landowners often used the ethnic diversity of the agricultural labour force to manipulate workers. They would pit Japanese crews against Korean or Chinese crews, playing on traditional animosities to encourage competition in worker output. They would hire Mexican workers as strikebreakers when Filipino workers tried to negotiate better pay. Takaki continues: "...coming from 'a different shore,' Asian immigrants constituted a unique laboring army of 'strangers,' to use Georg Simmel’s term: of alien origin, they were brought here to serve as an 'internal colony' - nonwhites allowed to enter as 'cheap' migratory laborers and members of a racially subordinated group, not future citizens of American society." Another common thread that surfaced with almost every new wave of immigration from Asia was the issue of interracial relationships. Immigration laws often separated families or favoured single men as immigrants. In some cases, the ratios of men to women immigrating was as high as ten to one. Men alone, without their wives or without any chance if finding wives from their own backgrounds, frequented brothels and sex workers. And some formed long-term relationships with white women, even though in many states, interracial marriages were against the law. Fear of Asian men as sexual predators surfaced at regular intervals; like blacks in America, Asian immigrants were often portrayed as dangerous to the safety of white women and the purity of the national bloodlines. Changing immigration laws over time made it sometimes possible for entire families to come to America, at other times, only men were allowed, specifically as labourers. Sometimes they were able to gain citizenship and bring wives and children to join them, at other times the path to citizenship was difficult, and even citizens could not sponsor non-citizens. In some cases, Asian immigrants who had at ine time been able to acquire citizenship, such as immigrants from Indus, had their citizenship taken away when exclusion laws were extended to include them. The laws changed based on the economic needs and racial prejudices of white America, and patterns of immigration among Asians of different nationalities changed with the laws. The early stories of different waves of Asian immigrants are fairly similar - most came to America to find economic success, hoping to either return home as wealthy men, or to bring their families to join them in a land of prosperity. While some did achieve one of these goals, for many, the dream was never realised. They faced discrimination, back-breaking work for low wages. They were seen as an expendable labour force, but not as prospective citizens. They build the railways, planted and harvested the food, worked in service industries across the country, but were never accepted as ‘real Americans.’ And then things changed with the involvement of the US in WWII, which had very different meanings and consequences for different groups of Asian Americans. For Filipinos in America, the war in the Pacific was a direct threat to the families they had left behind. Many enlisted and fought with white soldiers against Imperial Japan, and many hoped that fighting for American interests would result in them being seen, finally, as Americans. For Koreans, the war rekindled hope for Korean independence in the aftermath of a possible destruction of Imperial Japanese military power. Although the US government viewed Koreans as Japanese subjects and classed them as “enemy aliens,” many became involved in the war effort as best they could, joining the National Guard and serving as translators. Indian and Chinese immigrants benefitted from wartime alliances. Allied strategy called for an accommodation with India as a potential block against Imperial Japan’s plans in southeast Asia, while China allied with the US and declared war on Japan. Chinese communities in America contributed extensively to the war effort and enlistment was high among Chinese men. By the end of the war, the Exclusion Act had been repealed, opening doors for immigrants from both countries. Japanese Americans living in the western states were confined in internment camps as potential enemy combatants, their property confiscated. In Hawaii, where Japanese had been integrated into the mainstream community, and where large proportions of key tradespeople necessary to the war effort were Japanese, wide-scale internment did not take place. Despite the internments, 33,000 Japanese Americans served in the US military during the war. In the postwar era, many veterans in all these groups used their status to become citizens and to finally bring their families to the United States. Despite the lowering of immigration bans against Chinese, Indian and Filipino immigrants, quotas were set at very low levels which remained until the 1960s, when race-based immigration policies were (technically) ended and all Asian nations assigned quotas in line with those for European countries. This resulted in yet more shifts in the patterns of immigration, and changes in the class and educational levels of those immigrants, although it did not necessarily make it easier for Asian immigrants to find jobs and social acceptance once they arrived. While many immigrants from Asian countries now arrive in the US with advanced degrees, business capital, or both, others are refugees from wars, poverty and environmental disasters and arrive with almost nothing. In telling the story of Asians coming to, and living and working in, America, Takaki alternates between a remote and academic historical narrative of facts and events and legislation, and a more #ownvoice narrative that relies heavily on letters, journals, interviews, songs and poems to convey the experiences from the perspectives of the immigrants themselves, which he explores and expands on. In these sections, he closes the distance even further by including, where appropriate, details from the experiences of his own family. In this well researched and well organised study, Takaki covers much ground, from the experiences of early Chinese laborers to refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the post Vietnam war era. Written in 1989 and revised in 1998, the more recent stories of Asian peoples in America are missing, but as a historical survey, it is an excellent resource for anyone seeking to understand issues of diversity in the US. Takaki concludes his work with this summation: “...throughout history, Asian Americans have been transforming America and also finding themselves being transformed by America. Since the arrival of the first Chinese during the 1849 gold rush, the interaction between Asian Americans and the larger society has been dynamic and dialectical. Exploited as agricultural and industrial workers, they fought for justice through labor unions and strikes. Victims of the “white”-only provision of 1790 Naturalization Law, they organized campaigns that culminated in its nullification in 1952 — a victory that made political membership more inclusive and the Statue of Liberty a more democratic symbol. Forced into segregated Chinatowns and internment camps, Asian Americans joined the U.S. military during World War II and fought as “one people” against fascism abroad and for equality at home. Excluded by racist immigration laws like the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1924 National Origins Act, they helped end this discrimination with the 1965 Immigration Act. Denied their cultures in a Eurocentric society, Asian Americans sought to preserve their heritages by creating communities like Chinatowns as well as Nihonmachis (Japantowns), organizing festivals, and founding language schools as well as churches and temples. Rendered invisible in mainstream history textbooks and courses, they established their own historical societies and museums and also organized exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution. And through a student activism that emerged in the sixties and resurged in the nineties, they innovated new curriculums in Asian-American studies at universities across America — from Berkeley and UCLA to Minnesota and Michigan to Cornell, Columbia, and Princeton. These struggles of Asian Americans have been a continuous rebellion against the exclusive constructions of “we, the people” and a constant resolve to help make this “a more perfect union,” an ethnically diverse yet united society. The recovering and sharing of their stories can help all Americans understand why these immigrants who went east to America should have been viewed and treated not as “strangers,” but as Americans “from a different shore.” The history of Asian Americans offers all of us an opportunity to carry into the coming century a larger memory of America’s past.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is an incredibly comprehensive history of the immigration patterns and experiences of various Asian American groups. Takaki clearly shows the paradoxes in the way Asian immigrants were treated in the United States: They were heavily recruited for menial jobs by those desperate for workers, then accused of "stealing jobs." They were given pitiful wages and substandard housing and denied access to resources that would give them a better quality of life, then accused of "living like animals." This is an incredibly comprehensive history of the immigration patterns and experiences of various Asian American groups. Takaki clearly shows the paradoxes in the way Asian immigrants were treated in the United States: They were heavily recruited for menial jobs by those desperate for workers, then accused of "stealing jobs." They were given pitiful wages and substandard housing and denied access to resources that would give them a better quality of life, then accused of "living like animals." Few women were allowed to immigrate from Asia in the early years, and relationships with white women were heavily discouraged or outright unlawful, and then the men — who had come over to work and found themselves unable to save enough for the trip home and unable to get a wife — were accused of having low morals for living in groups of unmarried men and visiting sex workers. Asian immigrants were forced to live in ethnic enclaves due to housing discrimination and low pay and then accused of being unwilling to assimilate with the rest of America. And on and on. One of the most striking aspects of this book for me was how many different individuals throughout the centuries were quoted as explicitly saying that America was a white man's country and should remain that way. Many white Americans like to pretend that our nation's leaders throughout history weren't explicitly white supremacists, they just blithely maintained the status quo and maybe held some private racial prejudices that unintentionally led to the systems we have today. But it's pretty clear the lengths to which people throughout history have gone to legally define "Americans" as "white" (and then define as "white" whoever was deemed worthy at that particular juncture). This goes into much more detail than the PBS series on Asian Americans (which I also recommend). At times this was almost too much detail; in particular, for one section of the book Takaki goes individually through different ethnic groups' experiences — Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, etc. — and although there were important differences between them, it gets a bit repetitive to have to go through the specifics of the challenges, discrimination, and slurs that each individual group faced, which shared many commonalities. However, I greatly appreciated how often Takaki used quotations from individuals of each ethnicity who lived through the time period in question (though this was a bit confusing on audio, when it was clear from the narrator's voice that phrases were in quotation marks but it wasn't clear what/who Takaki was quoting — perhaps it's footnoted in the text version). The audiobook is of the "updated and revised" version from 1998, but I was disappointed to find that this essentially meant that Takaki had just added a new chapter at the end about the 1990s. The previous section, about the "modern day" experiences of Asian Americans, was left untouched, so it included many, many statistics from the 1970s as a way of indicating what life is like for "today's" Asian Americans. Those statistics (e.g., immigration numbers) could have been researched and updated for the 1990s. I also think some of the language could have been updated, as Takaki sometimes seems to stereotype Black Americans or group them all together as impoverished/"inner city" in a throwaway comment when comparing them to Asian Americans. My only other complaint is that Takaki was super enamored with his title for the book and uses the phrase "strangers from a different shore" constantly throughout the book. It was unnecessary, to say the least. This will take some patience to get through, but if you want to have a deeper understanding of this aspect of American history (and what it reveals about the history of race in America more generally) I definitely recommend it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anatalio Ubalde

    Strangers from a different shore is a very tough book to read coming from a pacific islander. This book is about the hardships and brutal things that my people and ancestors had to deal with. From racism, unemployment, death, underpaying jobs, etc. this book explores what Asians had to deal with when coming from there corrupt home countries. As well as what they dealt with for hundreds of years. Ronald Takaki gives a beautiful representation of what the Asian race dealt with for many decades and Strangers from a different shore is a very tough book to read coming from a pacific islander. This book is about the hardships and brutal things that my people and ancestors had to deal with. From racism, unemployment, death, underpaying jobs, etc. this book explores what Asians had to deal with when coming from there corrupt home countries. As well as what they dealt with for hundreds of years. Ronald Takaki gives a beautiful representation of what the Asian race dealt with for many decades and even centuries. In this book, you will see the lives of Asians, as well as Asian Americans living their lives in Ameria.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Penelope

    Much here I didn't know, well presented and enlightening. I'm astonished at the obstacles these people had to overcome, and how well they did just that. Much here I didn't know, well presented and enlightening. I'm astonished at the obstacles these people had to overcome, and how well they did just that.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    Read for my Asian American History class the book is detailed but not boring relating the story of how different nationalities of Asians came to America and when. Some came willingly and some were forced from their countries due to harsh regimes and American influence. Real numbers are given and real stories with names to personalize the struggle to try to fulfill dreams. Most came not as inhabiters but as sojourners, never meaning to stay but caught in the reality of trying to earn a living in Read for my Asian American History class the book is detailed but not boring relating the story of how different nationalities of Asians came to America and when. Some came willingly and some were forced from their countries due to harsh regimes and American influence. Real numbers are given and real stories with names to personalize the struggle to try to fulfill dreams. Most came not as inhabiters but as sojourners, never meaning to stay but caught in the reality of trying to earn a living in a country that not always welcomed and often took advantage of them due to lack of language skills and knowledge of laws that were meant to protect. Often in the beginning there were no laws or there were laws aimed at opressing the immigrants. Depressing was those who came here with the same intents as their fellow countrymen and yet used them to get ahead with no thought of the opression they were inflicting. Parallels were made to the blacks who had just won their freedom and the Asian coolies who were then imported to do the work of the previous slaves. The timeline is important as is how the nationalities were used against each other by those in power to keep themselves in power. Second and third generations talked about with the saddest part being the loss of culture as they assimilated into American culture. The word liminality used a lot to describe the threshold or betweeness felt by many. Good book told with the intent to educate not blame but will raise the conscious level of the reader.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Z. Rose

    This is my inaugural Goodreads review. I felt that this book warranted one because it's subject matter is immensely important to me. During my undergrad, I minored in ethnic studies with a focus on Asian Americans. Myself, being first-generation Filipino American, I've had a curiousity about the influence of Asian Americans in society. "Strangers From a Different Shore" was the most referenced text in my university's intro to Asian American history course. It focused on an overview of mainly the This is my inaugural Goodreads review. I felt that this book warranted one because it's subject matter is immensely important to me. During my undergrad, I minored in ethnic studies with a focus on Asian Americans. Myself, being first-generation Filipino American, I've had a curiousity about the influence of Asian Americans in society. "Strangers From a Different Shore" was the most referenced text in my university's intro to Asian American history course. It focused on an overview of mainly the first Asian migrants from: China, Japan, The Philippines and India and their experiences coming to the U.S. The later chapters of the book touch upon more recent migrants experiences from Asia, but not too in-depth. There are many themes that resonated for me, including commentary regarding Asian Americans being the "model minority" as well as being treated as the constant outsider. The writer, Ronald Takaki does a great job of writing this in an approachable, not densely academic style. He weaves narrative of the universal experience of being an immigrant in with historical data. I honestly think this should be required reading for any ethnic studies course. It should also be supplementary reading in American History classes either in A.P. or university level. It isn't hard to follow and it makes you appreciate and realize the influence Asian Americans contributed to The United States. Coincidently, this month of May just happens to be Asian American and Pacific Islanders month -Highly recommend this be read!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Matsuoka

    My only comment is: Every American should read this. An excellent, thorough summation of the American history that is very much absent from our history books. I loved that Takaki incorporated excerpts of poetry and prose written by the men and women of early Asian America to show real emotions and how they dealt with the struggles they were faced with. A lot was familiar to me, more than I thought. I was amused and delighted at his descriptions of Japanese and Hawaiian culture, island life, the e My only comment is: Every American should read this. An excellent, thorough summation of the American history that is very much absent from our history books. I loved that Takaki incorporated excerpts of poetry and prose written by the men and women of early Asian America to show real emotions and how they dealt with the struggles they were faced with. A lot was familiar to me, more than I thought. I was amused and delighted at his descriptions of Japanese and Hawaiian culture, island life, the emergence of pidgin English, the diversified food that became known as "Hawaiian." The things I had taken for granted in my life suddenly had more meaning and value to me after their immigrant histories were explained. It was a light bulb moment, for sure. It's different for me to read about my own heritage and family life in a history book. It gives you a sense of pride for your family and where you come from. It also endows you with a sense of importance, when you realize that you DO in fact have direct ties to those that shaped the land with their own hands. The fact that our history is entirely invisible in regular school curriculums is an injustice. Asian-American students are denied this knowledge, this power, and this feeling of belonging and ownership of the country even though the blood, sweat, and tears of our ancestors in the railroads, gold mines, plantations, laundromats, World Wars, etc. have certainly earned us that right.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Taki

    I can only hope and wish that this book ends up in the hands of as many Asian Americans living in white suburbs across the country as possible(I grew up in the midwest). It's definitely not a comprehensive look at Asian American history. He definitely focuses mostly on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans. There is a whole chapter each on South Asian and Filipino Americans. As a Japanese American, the history portrayed in this book may have meant a little more to me than for other Asian Americ I can only hope and wish that this book ends up in the hands of as many Asian Americans living in white suburbs across the country as possible(I grew up in the midwest). It's definitely not a comprehensive look at Asian American history. He definitely focuses mostly on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans. There is a whole chapter each on South Asian and Filipino Americans. As a Japanese American, the history portrayed in this book may have meant a little more to me than for other Asian Americans because of this fact. The history starts with the Chinese who migrated to California to look for gold in 1849 and details how hard it was to be an Asian in this country. Many were virtually sucked in by capitalism and forced to work on the plantations, crushing the sojourners' dreams of wealth and "extravagance." This work was invaluable to the American economy today, setting the foundation for the rail system, and also the agricultural powerhouse of California. Read this book to fill a massive gap in your American history education.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Wai Yip Tung

    This is a sweeping 150 years history of Asian immigrant in united states. It traces the situation of various Asian groups, primary Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos. Brought in to fill the labor need, with the largest number concentrated in California and Hawaii, they are often rejected by the mainstream white society. They are treated with hostility, discriminated, marginalized and condemned by constitution for the most part of history. Today in San Francisco, Chinese is elected to the position bo This is a sweeping 150 years history of Asian immigrant in united states. It traces the situation of various Asian groups, primary Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos. Brought in to fill the labor need, with the largest number concentrated in California and Hawaii, they are often rejected by the mainstream white society. They are treated with hostility, discriminated, marginalized and condemned by constitution for the most part of history. Today in San Francisco, Chinese is elected to the position both of the Mayor and the President of the board of supervisor. Asians are active participant of all levels of the society, which is now largely meritocratic. I am really lucky to be an Asian in this era rather than the last century. It is an important historical lesson to learn how it was used to be and how we become who we are today.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James Peavler

    Incredibly interesting for anyone who is interested in the history of immigration to America. Many of the books out there on Asiatic immigration deals with China. I found it nearly impossible to find anything on any other countries. Although dense in some areas, this is a great beginners book for anyone who does not know much on Asian immigration to America. It covers the entire spectrum, from Chinese to Japanese to Korean to Indians, and gives a great overview of why and how members of these pa Incredibly interesting for anyone who is interested in the history of immigration to America. Many of the books out there on Asiatic immigration deals with China. I found it nearly impossible to find anything on any other countries. Although dense in some areas, this is a great beginners book for anyone who does not know much on Asian immigration to America. It covers the entire spectrum, from Chinese to Japanese to Korean to Indians, and gives a great overview of why and how members of these particular countries chose to move to America.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Noreen

    Good historical info on the waves of immigrants, the driving forces getting them to the US and what happened to them when they got here. Interesting general information about Chinese Japanese Korean Filipino's and Indians. Sociology of immigrant labor movements. It's all about communication. Japanese immigrant women had it easier because of the Meiji restoration policy of education for both sexes. For comparison read Thomas Sowells Migration and Culture, the Chinese and the Japanese sections. Th Good historical info on the waves of immigrants, the driving forces getting them to the US and what happened to them when they got here. Interesting general information about Chinese Japanese Korean Filipino's and Indians. Sociology of immigrant labor movements. It's all about communication. Japanese immigrant women had it easier because of the Meiji restoration policy of education for both sexes. For comparison read Thomas Sowells Migration and Culture, the Chinese and the Japanese sections. There are significant differences in the way the governments treated their people.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrés

    It is difficult to determine where ideology ends and the truth begins in this book. In bringing to light the lives of the forgotten, Mr Takaki has to be commended. His writing style is also significantly more approachable than most academics'. However, his political purpose of forging a common Asian American experience runs contrary to the facts and his conclusions tend to arrive before their supporting evidence does. In sum, Mr Takaki cuts an ambiguous figure. It is difficult to determine where ideology ends and the truth begins in this book. In bringing to light the lives of the forgotten, Mr Takaki has to be commended. His writing style is also significantly more approachable than most academics'. However, his political purpose of forging a common Asian American experience runs contrary to the facts and his conclusions tend to arrive before their supporting evidence does. In sum, Mr Takaki cuts an ambiguous figure.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Have you heard of Angel Island? It is west coast counter-part to Ellis island where thousands of Asian immigrants came to this country seeking a new life. It's part of history that still seems woefully absent in our education system. This historical book reads like a novel, accounting the heart wrenching stories of Japanese, Chinese, Filpino, Indian and other immigrant groups who were an integral part of building this nation. Have you heard of Angel Island? It is west coast counter-part to Ellis island where thousands of Asian immigrants came to this country seeking a new life. It's part of history that still seems woefully absent in our education system. This historical book reads like a novel, accounting the heart wrenching stories of Japanese, Chinese, Filpino, Indian and other immigrant groups who were an integral part of building this nation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    I'm saddened that I no longer own this book but it was a good read. I'm so touched by the struggles and obstacles immigrants had to endure throughout the course of American history - not known to many people. I'm glad there are books like this that can offer many viewpoints for our culture to explore. This is definitely a well-written and amazing book that can enhance one's perception in diversity and pluralism - especially for college students. I'm saddened that I no longer own this book but it was a good read. I'm so touched by the struggles and obstacles immigrants had to endure throughout the course of American history - not known to many people. I'm glad there are books like this that can offer many viewpoints for our culture to explore. This is definitely a well-written and amazing book that can enhance one's perception in diversity and pluralism - especially for college students.

  17. 5 out of 5

    June

    a historical, picturesque account of Japanese lives in America, started from their incoming to their breeds. Takaki explains how Japanese grew in population through stages of policy adoption. The best one I remember is the opening of Ellis Island for Japanese mail bride, which swelled into big matchmaker business at that time. Takaki also depict the situation faced by these brides in their newly lands. Such well and lively exploration.

  18. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sarah

    Read this awhile back for an Asian American Studies class. A "MUST-READ" for all ETHNIC STUDIES majors or minors. And for anyone interested in the history of Asian Americans. For example, Angel Island, Chinatowns (ghettos, vices, prostitution), Hawaii (sugar plantation workers), the Chinese Exclusion Act, racism, Asians as "model minorities" and so much more. Poignant blend of historical facts, narrative, diaspora, and the Asian American experience as a whole. Read this awhile back for an Asian American Studies class. A "MUST-READ" for all ETHNIC STUDIES majors or minors. And for anyone interested in the history of Asian Americans. For example, Angel Island, Chinatowns (ghettos, vices, prostitution), Hawaii (sugar plantation workers), the Chinese Exclusion Act, racism, Asians as "model minorities" and so much more. Poignant blend of historical facts, narrative, diaspora, and the Asian American experience as a whole.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marcelle

    Probably one of the best written, most interesting history books I've read. (And I'm not just saying that cause of my hapa bias). I've read about half the book so far - Takaki doesn't hold any punches and freely talks about the good and the gritty about the immigration, and settling, of Asians in America. Probably one of the best written, most interesting history books I've read. (And I'm not just saying that cause of my hapa bias). I've read about half the book so far - Takaki doesn't hold any punches and freely talks about the good and the gritty about the immigration, and settling, of Asians in America.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I feel like i've already gotten the "point" of this book from reading the introduction. I hope that the book focuses a little more instead of layering numbers & statistics as a way of trying to convey its importance. Relevant social dissection & plans to change stereotypes would be the true important factors of a cultural history. I feel like i've already gotten the "point" of this book from reading the introduction. I hope that the book focuses a little more instead of layering numbers & statistics as a way of trying to convey its importance. Relevant social dissection & plans to change stereotypes would be the true important factors of a cultural history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kodi

    I read this book for my Asian-American History class and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Takaki covered a lot of history and difficult concepts using personal stories and anecdotes and less of high-academic writing that can alienate the reader. In this way, it was easier to follow, to understand, and kept me engaged.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    American immigration history over the centuries, with original sources - writings, newspaper clippings, etc. The author addresses Asian immigration in particular, but provides insight that is applicable to today. We have wrestled with this issue since the 1700's, and our public policy changes have reflected the struggle. This drama hasn't changed, only the actors. American immigration history over the centuries, with original sources - writings, newspaper clippings, etc. The author addresses Asian immigration in particular, but provides insight that is applicable to today. We have wrestled with this issue since the 1700's, and our public policy changes have reflected the struggle. This drama hasn't changed, only the actors.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fay

    he uses the phrase "strangers from a different shore" on almost every page of this book. the annoyance from that alone sorta overshadowed any positive feelings i had about this. it's basically a history book. he uses the phrase "strangers from a different shore" on almost every page of this book. the annoyance from that alone sorta overshadowed any positive feelings i had about this. it's basically a history book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kiki Unhinged

    If you like reading personal accounts of Asian immigrant experiences this book is for you. I found it to be too much fluff making it longer than necessary and more tedious to read. However, it was also quite eye-opening.

  25. 4 out of 5

    K.

    If you like reading personal accounts of Asian immigrant experiences this book is for you. I found it to be too much fluff making it longer than necessary and more tedious to read. However, it was also quite eye-opening.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    All US History teachers should use this book. All people living in the US should read this since most US History teachers don't use this book. Well written, well researched, interesting. Up there with Zinn's histories. All US History teachers should use this book. All people living in the US should read this since most US History teachers don't use this book. Well written, well researched, interesting. Up there with Zinn's histories.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    When I read this book 25 years ago or so, it was not for a class or anything. I was so impressed with the sweep, I kept my original copy and use it as a reference book. It is focused primarily on California and West Coast, exploring origins of Chinatown and history of exclusion laws.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brian Sperry

    Required reading for American History from an Asian-American Perspective class. It was actually pretty good, and often quite insightful. It was hard to keep up with chronologically as the subject tends to jump around by nationality more so than by time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Osama Salah El Din

    This book is 491 pages long. Of these, only 24 were spent discussing the experiences of Indian Americans. Was it because Takaki exhaustively covers all Asian immigration to America? No. It's because the book focuses heavily on Japanese, Chinese and Korean immigrants This book is 491 pages long. Of these, only 24 were spent discussing the experiences of Indian Americans. Was it because Takaki exhaustively covers all Asian immigration to America? No. It's because the book focuses heavily on Japanese, Chinese and Korean immigrants

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judie

    an academic-style read of Asian Am. history and stories of migration. interesting information, though.

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