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The definitive history of Asian Americans by one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on the subject. 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 t The definitive history of Asian Americans by one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on the subject. 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.


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The definitive history of Asian Americans by one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on the subject. 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 t The definitive history of Asian Americans by one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on the subject. 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.

30 review for The Making of Asian America: A History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    a deeply researched overview of Asian migration to the Americas from the 16th century into the present, homing in on the slow making of Asian-American identity in the United States. in lucid prose Lee sketches immigration patterns, policy, and politics, and seamlessly interweaves the life stories of individual immigrants into her history, humanizing what might have otherwise been a dry account of the subject.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    File under "More stuff I didn't learn in school." With the recent news about Asians being in the news (on immigration, in literature, in any number of subject areas), this seemed like an intriguing pickup. I knew a bit about the Japanese internment camps from World War II. Chinese immigrants coming for the gold rush. But what other parts of Asian-American history did I not know?   A lot. As this doorstop (I mean that nicely) of a book shows, the history of Asian immigration to the Americas shows a File under "More stuff I didn't learn in school." With the recent news about Asians being in the news (on immigration, in literature, in any number of subject areas), this seemed like an intriguing pickup. I knew a bit about the Japanese internment camps from World War II. Chinese immigrants coming for the gold rush. But what other parts of Asian-American history did I not know?   A lot. As this doorstop (I mean that nicely) of a book shows, the history of Asian immigration to the Americas shows a very rich history. From the first Asians brought to Latin America as slave labor to the rise of Asian immigrants in the US and how they are perceived, author Lee takes us through a detailed history. This definitely helped fill in some gaps: ie I didn't know had been brought as slave labor to Latin America. Or that Japanese people in Peru and in other Latin American countries had been rounded up with Japanese in the US to be sent to internment camps. Or how US laws and racism forced Chinese people to try their luck in Canada or Mexico or elsewhere.   Despite the title I couldn't help but feel the book is a bit mis-named. It refers to Asian Americans, but it tends to be rather US-centered and tends to focus on certain groups of Asians (Chinese, Japanese, etc.) over say Southeast Asians. Some of it is somewhat understandable (a topic like the internment camps needs a lot of space so it can be adequately covered) but it also makes me think there's information that's missing. I realize this couldn't be comprehensive by *any* means, but I don't think the title is quite right. However, it does cover a broad range of topics: immigration, racism, economic hardships (left behind or faced by the newly arrived), civil rights, etc.   I also found the later parts of the book lacking. While I was excited to move closer to more recent times that I knew more about, the history part of the book ends in the 1990's or pre-9-11. I had hoped the author would dedicate some space (and she does talk about it here and there) to the treatment of Pakistanis, Indians or other Asians who happen to be Muslims in the post 9-11 world. Or maybe a broader discussion of the portrayal of Asians (American or not) in the media (movies, books, literature, etc.).   I also was somewhat puzzled by the discussions of AAs in civil rights movements. Although the work and participation of AAs in various civil rights movements are discussed, Lee also writes about AA LGBT people feeling excluded from the white mainstream without any mention that they very likely faced exclusion in their own ethnic groups too. This is not to diminish the work they have done to forward civil rights, but again I do not think it is quite as simple as Lee made it out to be.   Overall, though, I thought it was a good read. I took my time with it, seeing that it's much more "textbook" like and would require a closer reading. Some of the information is just downright enraging so I could really only handle a chapter or two at a time.  I'd also recommend supplementing it with other sources since this can't be in any way comprehensive. I can easily see this book as popping up on college syllabi on immigration, Asian American history, etc. But as a stand-alone (as in, not read for a class or anything), it worked fine in a non-academic setting.   This would probably make a good reference, but shouldn't be crammed in all at once (it's not a "light" read in any sense of the word by weight or information). But if you're like me and want to fill the gaps of your education on Asian American history, I'd recommend it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Murtaza

    Thoroughly researched and compellingly well-written history of Asian migration to the United States. Its generally papered-over how much discrimination Asians faced when first arriving, many as either indentured laborers and even slaves to the Americas, and what a hard fought battle it was to establish themselves in these countries. They faced racist laws, violence, denigration as national security threats and "unassimilable foreigners," yet generally proved these allegations wrong. They have al Thoroughly researched and compellingly well-written history of Asian migration to the United States. Its generally papered-over how much discrimination Asians faced when first arriving, many as either indentured laborers and even slaves to the Americas, and what a hard fought battle it was to establish themselves in these countries. They faced racist laws, violence, denigration as national security threats and "unassimilable foreigners," yet generally proved these allegations wrong. They have also been subject to differing treatment based on the relative power and relationship of their homelands to the United States, something partly reflected in the growing stature of Chinese-Americans with the rise of China in recent decades. There are many unspoken parallels with the travails of past Asian immigrants and those American Muslims today, something that led me to read this book for research purposes. The book is packed with details and thoroughly sourced. For the most part, it doesn't slow down the narrative, although it did feel a bit disjointed at points. All in all its a great history that is often ignored by many, one of oppression and perseverance on the part of millions of people trying to establish themselves in a new land. Recommended to all students of American history as well as those trying to contextualize the present moment. A moment that may seem fraught but which is neither unprecedented or hopeless.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    This is a book I didn’t even know about till a week ago but I couldn’t stop once I started listening to the audiobook. It’s a fascinating book about the people who migrated from different countries in Asia to the US from the 17th century till recently, and I think the author did a good job relaying both the political as well as the personal reasons for this migration. Along with the desperation of a people who want a better life, we also see the bigotry and xenophobia towards them and how these This is a book I didn’t even know about till a week ago but I couldn’t stop once I started listening to the audiobook. It’s a fascinating book about the people who migrated from different countries in Asia to the US from the 17th century till recently, and I think the author did a good job relaying both the political as well as the personal reasons for this migration. Along with the desperation of a people who want a better life, we also see the bigotry and xenophobia towards them and how these perceptions change based on world events, as well as based on what the politicians of US want Americans to feel. The chapters about the Japanese internment camps were particularly difficult to read. This was very informative and I am glad to get the opportunity to expand my knowledge about this topic. My review is pretty incoherent because I’m just not in a mood to write anything today, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested to learn this part of American history, which is not very well known nor considered very important to be taught.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    First things first: yes, The Making of Asian America is very well researched but not the most well written (at times with unclear and confusing event descriptions, at times a regurgitation of statistics or too many personal stories). Yes, The Making of Asian America, by nature of the undertaken task, necessarily sacrifices depth for breadth. These two points notwithstanding, I really think The Making of Asian America should be mandatory reading--not only for Asian Americans so they can better un First things first: yes, The Making of Asian America is very well researched but not the most well written (at times with unclear and confusing event descriptions, at times a regurgitation of statistics or too many personal stories). Yes, The Making of Asian America, by nature of the undertaken task, necessarily sacrifices depth for breadth. These two points notwithstanding, I really think The Making of Asian America should be mandatory reading--not only for Asian Americans so they can better understand the historical legacies backing their current status as the Perpetual Other, but also for every American so they are aware of their country's sordid past of violent racism and imperialism. Erika Lee makes two main points: (1) that current day Asian America is not a monolithic group, but that is instead comprised of many disparate national and ethnic diasporas, each with very different histories in America, and that follows a highly bimodal distribution for socioeconomic and education level; (2) that this current bimodal Asian America has its roots in centuries of anti-Asian racism and Asian Exclusion immigration laws in the Americas. In fact, the publication of Making was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which finally abolished national immigration quotas and, in doing so, paved the way for renewed Asian immigration and an invigoration of Asian America. In discussing the making of Asian America, Lee details the history of Asian immigration to and exclusion from America. [oops filling this in later] Finally, Making is, of course, highly relevant in 2015 in light of today's anti-Mexican sentiment, ever growing Islamophobia, and the Syrian refugee crisis. President Obama and the Democratic candidates can speak all they want on how blocking Syrian refugees is "un-American" and "not reflective of our American values," but it is, sadly, the Republican candidates, with all their fear-mongering and racist rhetoric, who come closest to the very American values of racism, xenophobia, and cultural supremacy. All Americans should read Making, be humbled by our nation's history of hate, violence, and marginalization, and subsequently become better, more empathetic, citizens.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Soo

    Notes: - Not a fan of Zeller's narration for this one. - Good intro to the topic but be aware that all historical accounting are biased. - Title is misleading. It's not a good presentation of all Asian American immigration. That would have made the book 3x as long in length. - The delivery for Chinese immigration was best. Followed by Japanese. Going by content, I would say the other parts are not as well understood/researched/etc. - I'd recommend reading the book over the audio. It was obvious th Notes: - Not a fan of Zeller's narration for this one. - Good intro to the topic but be aware that all historical accounting are biased. - Title is misleading. It's not a good presentation of all Asian American immigration. That would have made the book 3x as long in length. - The delivery for Chinese immigration was best. Followed by Japanese. Going by content, I would say the other parts are not as well understood/researched/etc. - I'd recommend reading the book over the audio. It was obvious that the book was not meant to be read out loud. Word choices, phrasing & placement of snippets of people's lives were crammed into historical summaries.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    It's crazy how much of this history we don't learn in our k-12 education. What we do learn is like a summary of the Cliff's notes version. I didn't realize the magnitude of numbers involved with the Chinese, South Asian, and South East Asian "indentured servant/laborer force" being brought in. Nor did I know just the scope of their disbursement in the Americas. I had referenced the "endless waltz" of " war, peace and revolution" in another review, but it seems like there's an endless waltz here It's crazy how much of this history we don't learn in our k-12 education. What we do learn is like a summary of the Cliff's notes version. I didn't realize the magnitude of numbers involved with the Chinese, South Asian, and South East Asian "indentured servant/laborer force" being brought in. Nor did I know just the scope of their disbursement in the Americas. I had referenced the "endless waltz" of " war, peace and revolution" in another review, but it seems like there's an endless waltz here as well. Perhaps not as succinct, but it's the endless waltz of "forcing and/or allowing in slaves/laborers from other countries to take criminally low-paying jobs, immediate xenophobic and racist backlash, and then passing laws to block immigration from those countries depleting the workforce and then having to start the cycle again with a new set of countries". That seems to be the history of how each group of Asian immigrants originally came into the country and we're seeing it happen again now. We just call the xenophobia and racism "economic anxiety". But the arguments used against the groups, the whole idea of "rapists and murderers", of simultaneously taking all the jobs but also being lazy, of changing the moral values of the country - the same exact arguments used in 1882 for the Chinese Exclusion Act are currently being used in 2020. Despite the length of the book it still feels like a summary of the "entire" Asian-American experience. For the most part, the focus of the book in terms of "America" is the United States and in terms of "Asia" tends to be East Asia. It does cover South Asians being brought to places like Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago; Chinese in Cuba, Mexico, Canada; or the Japanese in Peru, but it almost seems summarized and trying to get to how it relates to the United States quickly. There's a lot about and about the after effects of Chinese Exclusion, and Japanese internment - understandable because they are both well known and impactful, but it's clear that the author seemed to have a lot to say about both of those events. Aside from the Filipino experience, the rest of Southeast Asia isn't really brought up until the author gets to the 1960's. And their (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, etc...) experience seems to all get bunched together and rushed. In terms of more "recent" events such as Vincent Chin, LA Riots, 9/11, the current lives that Asian-American lead, the diaspora, and the racism that they experience - it's crammed and rushed at the end of the book. The book obviously never claims to be a complete history of the entirety of the Asian American experience, but I do feel like the foundation is missing a few blocks here and there. There's a few instances where the book starts following specific people or families at certain parts, it gives the book some relatability or a personal touch, giving names and specificity to what's happening to a group at a certain time. I know some people would rather the book just focus on the broader details of policy or just historical facts, but I think the primary source of hearing what people who lived through it have to say is important. It gives context on how policies impacted real lives, and how people had to adjust their expectations or entire lives just to survive. I think it's a 4 star book because I would have really liked the book to be less East Asian-centric, but at the same time, I'm giving it 5 stars just because I can. People don't read enough history in general, and certainly don't read enough about Asian-Americans specifically, and I'm not going to drag the review score of this book down giving people more excuses to not read it. I think in the context of the current President, of the racism that has come to the forefront these past few years, of new immigration and visa policies, of the recurring racism that all Asians are facing - this book is an important book to read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    RuthAnn

    Recommended I do NOT have a head for history, so I'm grateful for books like this that can help educate me on topics that are a part of American history and yet are not covered at all in education. The reader of the audio book was excellent, and I tracked along just fine. I loved how the author talked about Asian immigrants to the United States from all kinds of Asian countries, definitely chipping away at the concept of the Asian monolith (ie, that we are all the same). She also did a great job Recommended I do NOT have a head for history, so I'm grateful for books like this that can help educate me on topics that are a part of American history and yet are not covered at all in education. The reader of the audio book was excellent, and I tracked along just fine. I loved how the author talked about Asian immigrants to the United States from all kinds of Asian countries, definitely chipping away at the concept of the Asian monolith (ie, that we are all the same). She also did a great job of showing how the "model minority" concept is detrimental to Asian Americans and people in general because, hello, stereotypes and pitting groups against each other. There's also a theme of Asian Americans constantly having to prove how American we are, even if we were born in this country. I learned a lot, and a lot resonated with me! If you like history, definitely put this one on your list. While I listened to this FASCINATING work of history, I had two main thoughts: 1) I need to buy this for my mom because she would LOVE it, and 2) Is there nobody that white America will not discriminate against?! For the love. Phase after phase of dehumanization, slavery, and humiliation throughout history, no exaggeration.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anita Fajita Pita

    Honestly all, this is going right up there with Minor Feelings for me. The history here is so rich and expansive. We're talking Asian American history spanning half a century at least and multiple nationalities. I learned so much. I felt so much. Whereas Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong took a pretty intimate yet macro view of the Asian American as a whole, The Making of Asian America zoomed us in and out of the Asian American diaspora to show immigrant historie Honestly all, this is going right up there with Minor Feelings for me. The history here is so rich and expansive. We're talking Asian American history spanning half a century at least and multiple nationalities. I learned so much. I felt so much. Whereas Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong took a pretty intimate yet macro view of the Asian American as a whole, The Making of Asian America zoomed us in and out of the Asian American diaspora to show immigrant histories by country and time frame as well as the reaction in America - and therefore the world - towards the different Asian immigrants. The social and political factors at play greatly impacted how each round of immigration was recieved, as well as legislative reactions like the Anti-Chinese Immigration Act evolving into the Anti-Asian Immigration Act and how these moves by the American government led to stricter immigration regulations on Asians in Canada, Mexico, Peru and Brazil, etc. Wars played a huge part on Asian American sentiment, obviously we had the World Wars as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. Lee breaks the down political and social reactions. There is a lot of anti Asian sentiment in our history - going back, like, forever - and tbh this clouded the early chapters of this book in a hazy red for me considering our current anti-Asian issues here in America. But beneath it there is such a rich immigrant history to behold. I was especially tickled to learn of Asian pockets across other countries because of America's immigration laws, and the boom of Mexican-American/Asian-American marriages also as a response to Asians not being able to become citizens and therefore not own land. There really is a lot in here. Lee also covers internment camps and the "model minority" as a political agenda against other races (but not so much intimately as Minor Feelings does view its affects on Asian Americans). I absolutely recommend this to anyone interested in American history as a huge gap filler in your public education - read all of the nothing taught in public schools about Asian American history - as well as anyone interested in multicultural, political and/or social reads. You won't be disappointed in this one, and it will be a wonderful and timely read especially now.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vina

    A well researched and compilation of Asian American history that is never mentioned through any history books. I recommend this book for others to read and how Asian communities have made an impact throughout history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    J

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Isn't it fun to have to read a book ten years after public education to learn "your" history? I will admit I could and should have done this sooner. For a long time I was disenchanted from reading, from history as I was taught, from thinking that it was important to know. Reasons. Excuses. But I'm here now. I picked up this actually because the library had an AAPI month display... and it's been a lot of good, difficult emotional work to get through it. I am so glad I followed my whim. I am devast Isn't it fun to have to read a book ten years after public education to learn "your" history? I will admit I could and should have done this sooner. For a long time I was disenchanted from reading, from history as I was taught, from thinking that it was important to know. Reasons. Excuses. But I'm here now. I picked up this actually because the library had an AAPI month display... and it's been a lot of good, difficult emotional work to get through it. I am so glad I followed my whim. I am devastated and inspired and enlightened and so many things. I loved learning more background about the immigration routes that might apply to some former acquaintances who are part of Latinx, Asian, and American cultures. I also needed to know a lot of the lynching history, unattributed contributions and discriminations, and other difficult pains that continue to get looked over and unseen for the current stage of the model minority myth. I'm hoping to pick up a Chinese copy when available for my mom. Highly recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I listened to this on CD. I became aware that, at times, it sounded like the same story over and over again: the prejudice, the immigration barriers, the legal injustice. It reminded me of the quote that history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes (apparently not a quote by Mark Twain, but worthy of him). It was interesting to hear the story of other Asian Americans. I was familiar with the Chinese and Japanese and to some degree Southeast Asian stories, but not of Koreans, Philippinos, and I I listened to this on CD. I became aware that, at times, it sounded like the same story over and over again: the prejudice, the immigration barriers, the legal injustice. It reminded me of the quote that history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes (apparently not a quote by Mark Twain, but worthy of him). It was interesting to hear the story of other Asian Americans. I was familiar with the Chinese and Japanese and to some degree Southeast Asian stories, but not of Koreans, Philippinos, and Indians. I also liked the discussion of the “model immigrants”. We are such slow learners. We need to listen to this story and the stories of other immigrants as often as possible.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fei

    The most comprehensive Asian American history 101 book I've come across, including details about early communities that settled in CA and New Orleans in the 18-19th century, undocumented immigration in the early 20th century after immigration legislation exclusion, stories of the wide diversity of Asian communities (Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Laotian, Indian). Great read! The most comprehensive Asian American history 101 book I've come across, including details about early communities that settled in CA and New Orleans in the 18-19th century, undocumented immigration in the early 20th century after immigration legislation exclusion, stories of the wide diversity of Asian communities (Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Laotian, Indian). Great read!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I found myself somewhat disappointed with The Making of Asian America, perhaps because I read it so soon after Ronald Takaki's Strangers from a Distant Shore. Lee borrows heavily from Takaki's work, imitating elements from his style and many sources, quotations, and people. To some extent, that's to be expected, as they are writing on largely the same topic, but Lee's work feels more like a revised edition than a new and fresh piece of scholarship. It does offer some expansion by delving into th I found myself somewhat disappointed with The Making of Asian America, perhaps because I read it so soon after Ronald Takaki's Strangers from a Distant Shore. Lee borrows heavily from Takaki's work, imitating elements from his style and many sources, quotations, and people. To some extent, that's to be expected, as they are writing on largely the same topic, but Lee's work feels more like a revised edition than a new and fresh piece of scholarship. It does offer some expansion by delving into the Americas as a whole rather than just the U.S., although the U.S. is very much central to the book, and The Making of Asian America is published much more recently than Takaki's work and thus more updated in terms of cultural events, activism, and popular social/critical theory. I was also irritated by what I saw as the author's propensity to blur and obfuscate dates in a manner that supported the points she was making, although I don't recall it occurring with too much regularity, and perhaps I'm writing with recency bias as I noticed one particularly egregious instance at the conclusion of the work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paulina

    Wonderfully detailed book on the history of Asian Americans. Lee details the beginnings of the pervasive racism that currently exists towards Asian Americans from the othering that began in holding Asians in a human zoo, to immigration restriction, to internment camps, to the use of the model minority myth to pit Asians against other minorities as well as deny problems within different groups of Asians to the present day atrocities that began after 9/11. While definitely a book I would recommend Wonderfully detailed book on the history of Asian Americans. Lee details the beginnings of the pervasive racism that currently exists towards Asian Americans from the othering that began in holding Asians in a human zoo, to immigration restriction, to internment camps, to the use of the model minority myth to pit Asians against other minorities as well as deny problems within different groups of Asians to the present day atrocities that began after 9/11. While definitely a book I would recommend everyone to read, not just Asians, I did have a problem with the focus on Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean groups, as the author did spend more time writing about the history of these Asian groups, and lumped together many other groups into a general Southeast Asian or South Asian history. It felt that there was too much focus on East Asian American history and not enough on Southeast Asian American and South Asian American history, as the different ethnic groups within these categories were often presented together instead of separately. Overall, good read and informative, and definitely a crucial book in unpacking racism against Asian Americans.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rosalie

    Thorough history of Asian immigration from before the United States was even founded, to present day. Includes stories of individuals as well as many statistics of large groups of people from all over Asia -- SE, south, east, etc. Definitely not something I consider "easy" reading (it took me a few months), but is essential to understanding the context of how Asians and Asian Americans have operated in society for hundreds of years. This coming from someone who grew up in the Midwest and had onl Thorough history of Asian immigration from before the United States was even founded, to present day. Includes stories of individuals as well as many statistics of large groups of people from all over Asia -- SE, south, east, etc. Definitely not something I consider "easy" reading (it took me a few months), but is essential to understanding the context of how Asians and Asian Americans have operated in society for hundreds of years. This coming from someone who grew up in the Midwest and had only a faint knowledge of my own family history post 1980s. Also essential in understanding the pitfalls we as Asian Americans can get into and why -- such as believing the model minority myth, ignoring the stark economic differences within our community, and seeing wealth and prosperity at the expense of pushing other minorities away.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Very good. This book was a great chronicle of history regarding many of the Asian people groups who have come to America. The author details the struggles faced by each group and how immigration laws, wars, and racism caused so much difficulty and pain for families. It's the story that I didn't hear much of growing up as a white American. I appreciated her honesty, and sharing the good and the bad of the lives of many Asian Americans. Even though it was long and a lot of history, I found myself Very good. This book was a great chronicle of history regarding many of the Asian people groups who have come to America. The author details the struggles faced by each group and how immigration laws, wars, and racism caused so much difficulty and pain for families. It's the story that I didn't hear much of growing up as a white American. I appreciated her honesty, and sharing the good and the bad of the lives of many Asian Americans. Even though it was long and a lot of history, I found myself interested for most of the time. If you are interested in learning about other cultures outside of white America, this will give you a good perspective of how life has been for many other non-white Americans.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zara Rahman

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave me an insight into Asian Americans, and a much broader overview than anything I've read before. It includes a historical perspective which helped me understand much more how different populations and nationalities of Asian Americans ended up in the US, and perhaps more crucially, the relationships between different nationalities of Asian Americans and other ethnic minorities too. It was a good book to read while being here in the US, particularly in New Yo I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave me an insight into Asian Americans, and a much broader overview than anything I've read before. It includes a historical perspective which helped me understand much more how different populations and nationalities of Asian Americans ended up in the US, and perhaps more crucially, the relationships between different nationalities of Asian Americans and other ethnic minorities too. It was a good book to read while being here in the US, particularly in New York City, particularly because some of the historical anecdotes take place not far from where I am which added an extra level of intrigue and interest to them for me. I knew and noticed particularly since I arrived that understandings of Asian Americans are very different to British Asians, and this book helped me contextualise and gain a better understanding of why that is.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dianne Woods

    Erik Lee shares a comprehensive history of the immigration experience of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Indian populations coming to the U.S. These histories of Asian Americans, and their difficult transitions to the U.S. with some focus on Canada and Mexico are extremely interesting and filled with stories of both willing and unwilling immigrants. Lee provides the reader with substantial details related to the racial oppression that the different groups of Asians experienced during their jour Erik Lee shares a comprehensive history of the immigration experience of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Indian populations coming to the U.S. These histories of Asian Americans, and their difficult transitions to the U.S. with some focus on Canada and Mexico are extremely interesting and filled with stories of both willing and unwilling immigrants. Lee provides the reader with substantial details related to the racial oppression that the different groups of Asians experienced during their journey to and stay in the U.S.

  20. 5 out of 5

    N N

    Wow, I wish I had learned all this in school! As an Asian American myself, I learned so much and this really broadened my perspective. This is must-read remedial education for pretty much anyone who grew up in the US. Our US history books had a few paragraphs on the Chinese exclusion act and the Japanese interment camps, but there is so much more context that is missing and so much detail that we didn’t learn. I’m so glad I read this.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I read this in tandem with watching PBS's Asian American docuseries and they went hand in hand. It also helps that Erika Lee is featured in it as well. It's amazing to see the rich history Asian Americans have since it's a subject not widely known or talked about. There are definitely topics in here that I want to explore more! I read this in tandem with watching PBS's Asian American docuseries and they went hand in hand. It also helps that Erika Lee is featured in it as well. It's amazing to see the rich history Asian Americans have since it's a subject not widely known or talked about. There are definitely topics in here that I want to explore more!

  22. 4 out of 5

    amy

    I learned a lot that I hadn't known about before. It's a history that spans 500ish years so there are some parts that have to necessarily be glossed over. I learned a lot that I hadn't known about before. It's a history that spans 500ish years so there are some parts that have to necessarily be glossed over.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Claire Perko

    This is a must read for anyone who wants a greater understanding to a very complex history of Asian American immigration. Dense and well researched, this gives a great overview of historic and current immigration issues.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    Fantastic! Super thorough, without being dry. With all the hysteria surrounding immigration these days, now is the perfect time to gain some perspective on this complicated issue through the lens of Asian American immigration, by reading this history published in 2015.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    If you're looking about a series of statistics, by century, about the immigrants to America from various Asian countries, then this is your book. Most of Lee's history is like this, unfocused and lacking in narrative. The book would have been more interesting had she organized it according to each immigrant group's immigration history told over time. There are drawbacks to this approach in that readers might get lost in time as we get caught up to the 21st century when discussing China and then If you're looking about a series of statistics, by century, about the immigrants to America from various Asian countries, then this is your book. Most of Lee's history is like this, unfocused and lacking in narrative. The book would have been more interesting had she organized it according to each immigrant group's immigration history told over time. There are drawbacks to this approach in that readers might get lost in time as we get caught up to the 21st century when discussing China and then thrust back to the 18th century to Japanese American immigration, but I'd rather be occasionally lost in time than lost in a sea of detached statistics for basically the whole book. Some sections did have this cohesive narrative structure — her coverage of the Hmong from American covert anti-communist operatives in Laos to forgotten refugees to unsupported immigrants is a really fascinating one and told fairly linearly (seemingly because most of it took place in the same century). I wish she'd told that story from beginning to end all as one chapter rather than talking about how "in the middle of 20th century, here is where America stood in relation to" and then explaining each group's status at that point in time. The Chinese American narrative is another fascinating one, but because it spans three centuries with many distinct highs and lows, the history was spread out in different sections across the book. If this is your first introduction to China-America relations over time, then you're NEVER going to be able to follow along. (The same goes for Japan-America & Phillipines-America relations, which have a similarly long history.) You will need external frameworks for any of it to be interesting. She spent a lot of time repeating herself instead of synthesizing the commonalities of the stories and then highlighting the differences through group narratives. For example, one commonality is that the US has a pattern of at first not noticing new immigrant groups, then excluding them through laws when they begin to flourish, then begrudgingly accepting them with time and tons of advocacy. That's an interesting observation, especially as it plays out for basically every group over time! And yet, I'm over here synthesizing it myself because the author refused to. So frustrating. The book felt to me almost completely devoid of analysis. In what seems like an effort to celebrate each immigrant group equally, Lee's book fails to give each immigrant group the narrative framework to actually do so. She hamstrings her own effort by allowing every story to get lost in statistics and facts that blend together. Sigh.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matt Fitz

    While Asian Americans tend to make up folks on the higher end of socio-economic and educational success statistics, they are also overly-represented on the lower ends. That's something worth considering. Asian-American history is my blindspot. While largely due to it not really being a subject in school growing up in the pre-cultural diversity era, as a grown up Asian man in the 21st century, that blind spot is owned wholly by me now. This book did a lot to fix my prism and did it in a nicely org While Asian Americans tend to make up folks on the higher end of socio-economic and educational success statistics, they are also overly-represented on the lower ends. That's something worth considering. Asian-American history is my blindspot. While largely due to it not really being a subject in school growing up in the pre-cultural diversity era, as a grown up Asian man in the 21st century, that blind spot is owned wholly by me now. This book did a lot to fix my prism and did it in a nicely organized way. It covered a lot of the well-known areas of A-A history (Japanese Internment, Chinese Exclusion Act, etc) it covered it in depth and using resources and references new to me. The author does a good job of exploring the broad spectrum of Asian America in all its differences as well: Japan, China, India, Phillipines, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hmong, etc. Oddly enough, my own ancestry (Thai) is not represented in this book, but I still learned a lot about my "rainbow" of Asian friends. Interesting note: no one thinks about Asians and Civil Rights, but Asians were the first ones barred US entry by race, thereby becoming the first to then enter or remain illegally. Asians are long remembered (at least by some jurists) in many important civil rights cases: US v. Wong Kim Ark, US v. Bhagat Singh Thind, Takao Ozawa v. United States, and (of course) Korematsu. Highly recommend from those who want a better understanding of the "model minority" and why for every person who subscribes to that concept, there is another Asian who winces.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nanako Mizushima

    As an Asian American, loneliness is my life. Notice how much of the map of World Languages is covered with Green. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languag... ) Roots of the Romance languages link Europe, the Americas and my home country, the United States, together. So even though Americans may find European immigrants different -- there are threads of familiarity and empathy. Immigrants, and their children, from these countries can assimilate. There is no such link of language between most of th As an Asian American, loneliness is my life. Notice how much of the map of World Languages is covered with Green. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languag... ) Roots of the Romance languages link Europe, the Americas and my home country, the United States, together. So even though Americans may find European immigrants different -- there are threads of familiarity and empathy. Immigrants, and their children, from these countries can assimilate. There is no such link of language between most of the Asian countries. Asian languages are completely different from each other. So although Asian Americans may look similar, it's as difficult for Japanese immigrants to relate to the Vietnamese immigrants as it is to relate to the white majority. Immigrants from China have to struggle to communicate with immigrants from Southeast Asia just as much as with Americans. And the Asian immigrants' children have to struggle to understand each other as they are lumped together by the white majority. Erika Lee accomplished an amazing task of bringing these lonely Asian Americans together by tying together all the amazing stories of the men and women who came to this country to fulfill their dreams. As a Japanese-American, after reading this book I feel much less lonely. The American dream is what all Asian Americans share and Lee did a wonderful job of telling all of our stories.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angela Sun

    A comprehensive history on Asian American immigration and assimilation into the Americas -- from the mass Chinese migration during the railroad and gold rush era to the Filipino independence to the modern stereotypes of the model minority -- Lee manages to condense a lot of history on immigration from a large geographic mass into an easily readable book. If you want a primer on Asian American history, this is a great read. I loved the historic images of how the pacific union rail was built by a A comprehensive history on Asian American immigration and assimilation into the Americas -- from the mass Chinese migration during the railroad and gold rush era to the Filipino independence to the modern stereotypes of the model minority -- Lee manages to condense a lot of history on immigration from a large geographic mass into an easily readable book. If you want a primer on Asian American history, this is a great read. I loved the historic images of how the pacific union rail was built by a Chinese majority workforce but none were allowed to be in the ribbon cutting ceremony, photo of the first Hindu family to arrive in the US, and many others that help capture our history. Definitely recommend!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    This book taught me so much. Going into it, I thought it would be more about Asian cultures, but it's really a history of Asian immigration (from people who were forced here, to those who came searching for a better life, to refugees) and discrimination in the U.S. It's an in-depth analysis of the waves of immigration, how each group was treated and why, and also contains personal stories. There is information about Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, Indian, and other peopl This book taught me so much. Going into it, I thought it would be more about Asian cultures, but it's really a history of Asian immigration (from people who were forced here, to those who came searching for a better life, to refugees) and discrimination in the U.S. It's an in-depth analysis of the waves of immigration, how each group was treated and why, and also contains personal stories. There is information about Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, Indian, and other people, with specific examples to illustrate points. There are also a ton of helpful pictures. Myths and stereotypes, like the "model minority" are debunked throughout the book. I appreciated that for the most part Erika Lee quotes other scholars of Asian descent.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    4.5/5 stars, mostly because this book be six books or so, one each for the major cultural groups and then some. There's a lot of information packed into this book, most of it the sort that is never covered in standard US history (aka white people) narratives because it exposes all the dirty racist bits we like to pretend don't exist. But they did, and a lot of people got hurt and still do. A very engaging and necessary book. 4.5/5 stars, mostly because this book be six books or so, one each for the major cultural groups and then some. There's a lot of information packed into this book, most of it the sort that is never covered in standard US history (aka white people) narratives because it exposes all the dirty racist bits we like to pretend don't exist. But they did, and a lot of people got hurt and still do. A very engaging and necessary book.

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