A carefully constructed history of wide interest to students of American politics.

AMERICA FOR AMERICANS

A HISTORY OF XENOPHOBIA IN THE UNITED STATES

Thoroughgoing survey of an old strain in American history: racial and cultural animus toward newly arrived non-Americans.

“The target of our xenophobia may have changed from decade to decade, but our fear and hatred of foreigners has not.” So writes Lee (Chair, Immigration History/Univ. of Minnesota; The Making of Asian America: A History, 2015, etc.), opening her discussion with examples from the last electoral cycle and the current occupant of the White House—who, though his statements are “either patently false or grossly misleading,” nevertheless cannily taps into that ancient fear. Xenophobia is a powerful motivating factor in American politics, writes Lee, even if it goes against the equally powerful notion that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. “Even as it has welcomed millions from around the world,” she observes, “it has also deported more immigrants than any other nation—over fifty-five million since 1882.” Even as the current administration is widening its field of targets to include legal as well as illegal immigrants and to curtail both, it draws on former movements: the Know-Nothings of the 19th century, for instance, who “argued that Catholicism and Catholics were dangerous to American values and institutions”—and it’s no accident that the Hispanic migrants are mostly Catholic, even as Islam is also singled out for exclusion today. Lee charts various movements in the nation’s history, from Benjamin Franklin’s lament even before the Revolution that German immigrants would not be able to assimilate to anti-Irish measures in the years around the Civil War, and then the fervor those very Irish exercised in opposing immigration by Italians, Asians, and Jews. Throughout, the author notes that xenophobia is good business for its purveyors—politicians, TV commentators, radio hosts, and the like—and it is likely to remain a point for those people to flog in the coming election, as the president proclaims, “Our country is full."

A carefully constructed history of wide interest to students of American politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5416-7260-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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