Asian America : Chinese and Japanese in the United States since 1850

by Roger Daniels

Hardcover, 1988




Seattle : University of Washington Press, c1988.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ladycato
A few things to preface this review: the book is older, with this edition published in 1990. It's also intended as a college textbook or scholarly resource. That said, it wasn't a terrible or slow read, though it definitely was not an enthralling creative nonfiction piece in the modern style.

I read with the hopes of more research data for my forthcoming book series, which meant my focus was on the Chinese and Japanese in America at the turn of the 20th century. At the start, Daniels stated that he wanted to avoid creating a "negative history," wherein the emphasis is on what is done TO the minority people, rather than what they did. This meant that the material on a century ago was more sparse. I have read a number of other books on Chinese-Americans in this period that go into a lot more detail because there were so many wretched things done to combat the perceived "Yellow threat." The advantage Daniels has in this book is that he also brings in the experiences of the Japanese and contrasts that with the Chinese, and shows how their lives fluctuated through the 20th century.

This book is especially strong and detailed on the travails of Japanese Americans during World War II. This wasn't relevant to my research, but was fascinating in its horribleness. I have read about Japanese internment camps before, but Daniels brought in information about the divides within the Japanese community and what happened to those who resisted internment. The final chapters are about the efforts to compensate those who were interred (an effort that the author was involved in) and how the Chinese were treated after the Revolution and how things changed again after 1970s ping-pong diplomacy.

This isn't a "fun" read, but it serves a necessary purpose, and I can see why it was cited in other books I have read.
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