Critical in understanding today’s immigration issues.

ONE MIGHTY AND IRRESISTIBLE TIDE

THE EPIC STRUGGLE OVER AMERICAN IMMIGRATION, 1924-1965

A history of the struggle for immigration law reform in 20th-century America.

In this excellent debut, Yang—a deputy national editor at the New York Times who was part of a Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the ties between Donald Trump and Russia—recounts the making of the historic Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which opened the door to Asian, Latin American, African, and Middle Eastern immigrants and “helped define America as a multicultural nation.” Until then, becoming an American was tied to European ancestry, with entry barred to nearly all Asians. In a lively, smoothly flowing narrative based on archival research, the author describes the “racial paranoia” of the 1920s, marked by the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan, the continued popularity of Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race, and the surge in eugenics. Anti-immigration sentiment led to a restrictive 1924 law, which deliberately cut immigration under quotas based on the number of foreign-born Americans in 1890. In ensuing decades, writes the author, restrictions continued, with concerns over communist infiltration by immigrants growing more important than the desire to control the race and nationality of Americans. By the 1950s, a “coalition of the powerful and powerless,” led by Congressman Emanuel Celler and including families of interned Japanese Americans, argued for immigration in the more conducive climate engendered by increasing celebration of the immigrant past, the scholarship of historian Oscar Handlin (The Uprooted), and politicians’ eagerness for urban ethnic votes. By then, even organized labor supported immigration. Throughout her important story, Yang highlights human and political drama, from the histrionics of racists to the political machinations of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson on behalf of the displaced and others. The author also reveals the roles of unsung heroes like White House aide Mike Feldman, who shaped JFK’s message in A Nation of Immigrants. Yang illuminates the little-known, “transformative” 1965 law that spurred demographic changes expected to result in a nonwhite majority in America within a few decades.

Critical in understanding today’s immigration issues.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-63584-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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