THE CHINESE AMERICANS by Milton Meltzer

THE CHINESE AMERICANS

KIRKUS REVIEW

The next thing to slave labor, Chinese workers were imported by the thousands to build the Western end of the transcontinental railroad. They were paid less than whites and worked longer hours (twelve a day), were forcibly prevented from leaving and exposed to avalanches, explosives, and other dangers which killed 1200 (ten percent) of them during the project. California law denied citizenship, protection, and schooling to Chinese and other "inferior races"; white workers beat and killed them (unaware, Meltzer explains, that unity would better serve their interest); and later US laws denied citizenship to the Chinese and forbade both immigration of wives (and others) and intermarriage. Meltzer reveals all this with proper force and a minimum of the unnecessary adjectives used by Von der Grun (below) to describe the Nazi measures much of it brings to mind. Meltzer's own memories of childhood rhymes (of the "chinky chinky chinaman" variety) occasions a patient lecture on racial stereotypes in very simple terms before he takes Chinese American history up to today's sweatshops and tongs and the need, again, for alliance with others working for equality. Written for easy assimilation, but with no loss of impact and a contained indignation that gives it an edge over other entries at this level.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: T.Y. Crowell
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1981




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