The making of Asian America A history

Erika Lee

Book - 2015

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New York : Simon & Schuster 2015.
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Item Description
Includes bibliographic notes and index.
Physical Description
viii, 519 pages : illustrations, photographs ; 24 cm
Main Author
Erika Lee (author)
Review by New York Times Review

ORSON WELLES'S LAST MOVIE: The Making of "The Other Side of the Wind," by Josh Karp. (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99.) After years of self-imposed exile, Welles returned to the United States hoping to complete his grandest film yet: a tale of an aging movie director who kills himself on the anniversary of Ernest Hemingway's suicide. (Welles maintained it was not autobiographical.) The unfinished film remains largely unseen, and Karp delves into the various factors that blocked the project's completion, including the Iranian revolution and Liechtenstein-based companies. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, by Paula Hawkins. (Riverhead, $16.) Rachel, the divorced, unemployed, alcoholic and unstable heroine of this novel, has developed a fixation on a couple whose house she passes every day during her train ride into town. But when the woman goes missing, Rachel involves herself in the investigation, and turns out to have surprising connections to the crime. GOD AND JETFIRE: Confessions of a Birth Mother, by Amy Seek. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $15.) After an unplanned pregnancy, Seek chose to give her baby up for adoption. As part of her arrangement, Seek and the adoptive parents maintained a relationship throughout the child's life. The author reflects in this memoir on the excruciating grief of parting with a child and surrendering her role as a mother. THE ILLUMINATIONS, by Andrew O'Hagan. (Picador, $17.) The stories of Anne, an aging and once-renowned photographer, and her grandson, Luke, who traveled on an Afghan humanitarian mission, make up this novel. After Luke returns home to the United Kingdom, struggling to recover from his time overseas, spending time with his grandmother and uncovering a cache of her memories gives him comfort. "The Illuminations" is "both a howl against the war in Afghanistan and the societies that have blindly abetted it," Dani Shapiro said here. THE MAKING OF ASIAN AMERICA: A History, by Erika Lee. (Simon & Schuster, $18.) An impressive survey of life in the United States for Asians who sought to make their homes here. Lee's account spans some of the most ignominious episodes in the country's past, including legislation that barred Asian immigrants from entry, and shows how Asian-Americans, now the fastest-growing group in the United States, have shaped America. EILEEN, by Ottessa Moshfegh. (Penguin, $16.) In 1960s New England, Eileen plots an escape from a world largely dictated by men around her. Moshfegh skillfully explores "a woman's relationship to her body: the disconnection, the cultural claims, the male prerogative," our reviewer, Lily King, said. A HIGHER FORM OF KILLING: Six Weeks in World War I That Forever Changed the Nature of Warfare, by Diana Preston. (Bloomsbury, $18.) Preston traces the rise of a new class of weapons to this period in 1915, when the Germans launched a merciless assault on the Allies, gassing the Canadians and French, sinking the Lusitania, and bombing London.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [September 11, 2016] Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Lee's (history, Univ. of Minnesota; coauthor Angel Island) comprehensive treatise on the experiences of Asians in the United States mostly focuses on the 20th century, but the overall scope is broader in both time and space. Readers will find additional coverage of Asian immigration to Canada and Latin America beginning with the Spanish empire's Philippine-Mexico trade and concluding with an examination of Asian America in the present day. Lee reveals how U.S. policies impacted Asians throughout the hemisphere, for example the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act influenced other countries in the region to adopt similar legislation. This work pokes holes in the "model minority" myth by pointing out that Asians in the United States are overrepresented at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, and that before World War II, the group was frequently portrayed as being incompatible with American society. VERDICT An impressive work that details how this diverse population has both swayed and been affected by the United States. Highly recommended for readers interested in this important topic. Another exceptional book on this subject is Shelly Sang-Hee Lee's A New History of Asian America. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/15.]-Joshua Wallace, Ranger Coll., TX © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A sweeping study of the fastest growing group in the United States that underscores the shameful racist regard white Americans have long held for Asian immigrants. A historian of immigration whose ancestors hailed from China, Lee (History/Univ. of Minnesota) delineates the specific history of Asians in AmericaChinese, Japanese, Korean, Hmong, and otherswhile also lending a general sense of what immigrants have endured: discrimination in work, wages, education, and housing, and even incarceration during World War II. The author tells a thorough tale, beginning with the first "chinos" (Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese) who migrated from 16th-century Manila (trade between Spain and Asia first ran through the Philippines) to Acapulco and even proto-California. Colonial trade routes brought goods like tea, porcelain, and fabrics from Asia, and immigrants followed to Mexico and Peru and North America, especially as the need for labor grew. Readers might be surprised to learn of the huge influx of South Asian "coolies," or indentured laborers bound under contract, to the Americas and the West Indies during the 19th century, feeding another form of slavery and fueling discrimination. Due to adverse economic conditions in many Chinese provinces in the mid-1800s, the Chinese migrated in huge numbers; one great attraction was "Gold Mountain" (California), which drew Lee's great-great-great-grandfather. Official U.S. immigration discrimination kicked in by 1875, codified in certain exclusion and immigration acts (1882, 1924) and restricting citizenship. Of course, the irony was that despite the enormous contributions of Asians in building American industry and wealth, they were never considered fully American. But Asians in exile were able to work for revolution and change in their own countries (China, India) while pushing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge discrimination in housing, work, and other venues. For readers interested in even further study, the author provides a highly useful bibliographic essay. A powerful, timely story told with method and dignity. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.