COMING TO AMERICA: Immigrants from the Far East by Linda Perrin

COMING TO AMERICA: Immigrants from the Far East

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Like Meltzer's The Chinese Americans (p. 80, J-28), and like others in the Coming to America series (see Blum and Ozer, above), this focuses not on the achievements of a prominent few but on the mostly negative experiences of the masses of immigrants. Four groups are surveyed here, beginning with the Chinese ""sojourners"" who met with beatings, discriminatory legislation, the hostility of native and Irish labor, and the general belief that these odd pigtailed little men were more or less subhuman. The more ""American"" Japanese did better until World War II, when ""slap a Jap rat"" became the slogan of the day and even men disabled on the European front could not get a haircut back home in California. A California newspaper called for ""extinction"" of the troublesome Filipinos during our takeover of their islands, and their immigrant descendants continue to feel ""disoriented"" here, accepted by neither whites nor Oriental Americans. And the Vietnamese, after their scramble to get out of Saigon, have met with ""adjustment"" problems, the usual labor hostility, and jobs beneath their educational and ""mental"" levels. This last section on the Vietnamese is the weakest, tending to gloss and generalization and never finding the right note in dealing with the immigrants' relatively privileged background. However, the first-person documents give all four stories life and impact, and the whole will serve as an antidote to the old, idealized melting-pot histories.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte