Read Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life by Roger Daniels Online


With a timely new chapter on immigration in the current age of globalization, a new Preface, and new appendixes with the most recent statistics, this revised edition is an engrossing study of immigration to the United States from the colonial era to the present....

Title : Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life
Author :
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ISBN : 9780060505776
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 576 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life Reviews

  • Antigone
    2019-04-20 23:57

    It would not be overstating the case to call this history top-heavy with charts and statistics. Our author admits early on: "I hate to burden the reader with all these figures, but in demographic matters, if you don't get the numbers right, you just don't know what you're talking about." That's a truth one can respect, yet toleration (for those of us less enamored of the crunch) is greatly enhanced by a generous assortment of meaty asides. Thankfully, Daniels is aware of this and channels his inner wit to provide a genuinely entertaining and informative journey through America's attempts to accept those huddled masses yearning to be free.We are taken from the colonial era to the heaviest period of immigration (1820-1924), and on through the 1990s - drawing extensively from census records, passenger manifests, government accountings and more to answer the questions of when people came, how they came, where they settled and why. Which populations were pushed out of their countries? Which were, alternatively, pulled toward America? How did the means of each group impact their immigration experience? Attention is also paid to America's response to these incursions - welcoming in times of prosperity and peace, much less so when money was tight and the threat of war was in the air.To get a sense of those asides peppered throughout, here's one on the predicament of Israel and the Soviet Jews:The mechanism under which that immigration takes place is a curious and complex one. All Jews leaving the Soviet Union have emigration visas that state their destination as Israel. But you can't go to Israel directly from the Soviet Union, so the Jews fly to Vienna. Once in Austria, which is technically a country of first asylum, they are asked where they wish to go. In 1988 some 19,000 Jews were allowed out of Russia. Only 7 percent chose to go to Israel; the rest chose the United States, despite pleas and promises from Israeli officials who had access to them. The Israeli government has been trying to get the Soviet government to change the system and funnel the emigrants through Bucharest, where they would presumably not have a choice, but the USSR has not agreed. Once such persons are in Israel, which is a country of refuge rather than a country of first asylum they would no longer be eligible to enter the United States as refugees but would have to go through regular immigration procedures. An official of the Israeli government said recently that if Soviet Jews did not want to come to Israel, Israel did not care whether they got out or not, but surely few Israelis would share that sentiment.This book was written prior to September 11, an event which undoubtedly had an impact on American immigration. Still, I find it an invaluable resource with regard to centuries past and have a much better sense of the immigration experience my ancestors encountered. Brave folks, they.

  • Caroline
    2019-05-04 01:47

    I found this book surprisingly interesting, considering it is very much not what I was expecting. I picked it up hoping for a social history of immigration in America - the experiences of immigrants, the context and culture of their journeys, the nativist reactions, the assimilation and acculturation. All of those aspects appear in this book, but it is very much a statistical and legal summary of immigration history. I've rarely read a book with quite so many charts and data - I'm not much of a one for science and maths, and that kind of content usually turns me right off. So it's testament to the author that I not only persevered but thoroughly enjoyed doing so.From this kind of approach, you get a very clear overview of the patterns and trends in American immigration, the highs and lows and the context of those rises and falls. It is also fascinating to chart the changing ethnic make-up of immigrants to America: a very clear white Anglo-Saxon majority in the early colonial years; through to the perceived high-point of immigration during the Ellis Island years of the late 19th and early 20th century, when the bulk to immigrants were from Eastern and Southern Europe; to the end of the 20th century when Hispanics and Asians now form the majority. And in each and every era there has been the nativist backlash to immigration, with a surprising amount of participation from those naturalised US citizens who had previously been immigrants themselves.It's just a shame that in this second edition the author chose not to go back and revisit some of the text in light of events since its initial publication in 1991, simply adding on a new chapter charting developments up to 2001. If a third edition is ever planned it would benefit from a more comprehensive review, especially in light of the dramatic changes in US policy since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

  • Frank Stein
    2019-05-13 03:00

    An amazing review of the entire history of immigration and ethnic groups in America from 1609 to the present. Daniels manages to condense an impressive amount of research and information into one reasonably sized book.Perhaps unfortunately much of that research relies on just two main sources. The more boring parts rest on tables copied straight from the US census. Sometimes these tables are informative (such as the return ratios: about 1/3 of all immigrants actually went back to Europe in the 1800s, but the ratio differed for different groups, it was about 5% for Jews and about 85% for Balkans), but near the end of the book some sections, such as those on Puerto Ricans and Central Americans, just become endless strings of numbers. The better parts of the book come directly from Stephen Thernstrom's amazing "Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups," which Daniels liberally quotes from. So a lot of this is derivative of other works, but somebody had to do a fairly comprehensive one-book review, and Daniels does it well.It focuses more on the characters of ethnic groups than the conditions of their immigration, but he's great at conveying the nature of each distinctive group. I had no idea that Poles used to be so fiercely nationalistic, going as far as creating their own Polish-speaking parochial schools and creating the only breakaway Catholic church in America in protest at the Roman Church for refusing to appoint a Polish bishop. Or that German was far and away the most common language of ethnic newspapers (about 4/5 were German) or that it was the most commonly taught language in grade and high-schools throughout the 1800s, that is until anti-immigrant laws banned its teaching beginning in about 1880 and especially around World War I. Another interesting fact is that remittances, so recently shown by World Bank economist Dilip Ratha to constitute one of the most important sources of income in the Third World (at about $300 billion annually), were also important in the 19th century, with groups like the Norwegians sending millions of dollars of home annually.This is a book I'll definitely be pulling down from the shelf for years.

  • Jake Berlin
    2019-05-20 03:40

    the historical chapters of this book (especially the ones on the 19th century) are very strong, and i certainly learned a lot. the book falls down a bit in the chapters on the late 20th century, in part because it's a bit outdated (i read the second edition, which rectifies those wrongs a bit in the final chapter, but perhaps there's a newer version that gets closer to the present). one other small quibble: i feel like the author had a strange anti-chicago bent. perhaps it's because he's a professor in cincinnati, but he constantly used examples from that city and downplayed chicago's role in immigration, even though it's been one of the primary destinations for immigrants for nearly 200 years.

  • Evan Clark
    2019-05-05 05:54

    A very decent history book regarding immigration. Much of this information can be found in Daniels's other book, Guarding the Golden Door, verbatim in some places, but the depth here makes it worth a read, particularly in the origins of non-Eurpoean immigration. I'd like to give this one 4 stars, but like many academics, Daniels holds that informative writing must be dry... dry... dry... I need a drink now.

  • Sue Campbell
    2019-05-04 00:43

    Used as research for the early years of immigration.

  • Miriam Borenstein
    2019-04-30 22:45

    A comprehensive history of the peopling of America, Roger Daniels’ Coming to America presents immigration not as an element of the United States, but as the foundation of its history. Daniels argues that the distinction between early “settlers” and later “immigrants” is valueless, that all new American immigrants faced similar challenges. Recognizing these similarities, he argues, is as helpful to historians as examining their differences. He begins, therefore, with English colonies in America and their experiences after migration. In studies of specific groups, Daniels depicts of the lives and experiences of recent immigrants, paying attention to community, culture, religion, economy, politics, and gender. Though chronologically organized, Daniels rejects popular periodization of “old” and “new” immigration as misleading, as most immigrant groups arrive throughout both periods. Instead he presents three sections: colonial America, the years 1820-1924, and modern times. The third section focuses on American politics and action towards immigrants, rather than the groups themselves (a reasonable transition given the novelty of U.S. immigration regulation in this period).The chapters in the third section comprise the most innovative of Daniels’ study. Beginning with the Great Depression and continuing through the 1980’s, Daniels introduces the restrictive immigration legislation enacted in the 1920’s, charts the legal changes to the status of immigrants in America, and enumerates the liberal attempts at pro-immigration measures (that never came to fruition). Daniels concludes that U.S. policy in the 1980’s was a largely nativist (and implicitly racist) reaction against immigration—seemingly a return to the motivations and potential consequences of the immigration acts of the 1920’s.

  • Jeff
    2019-04-26 03:50

    I wanted a history of immigration to the US, even such a mainstream one as this one, to get some context for evaluating current issues around "Muslim" migration around the world. (I put "Muslim" in scare quotes for reasons I won't get into here). I knew that previous waves of immigrants had gotten various levels of opposition, and I usually don't like it when people play the "this time it's different" card, so I wanted some more detail on the past. The book shades heavy on facts and figures and trends and a little on the light side on daily life of immigrant groups. Also, having been first written in 1991, some parts are unavoidably outdated (virtually no India Indians in California! There's a Dominican, Mario Soto, making big money in baseball!) and the 2008 extra chapter has bolted-on feel (as it is bolted on). But overall the book fulfilled what I was looking for.One thing I'll say that people were noting today about "refugee" streams that I'll say is Nothing New is this: Many photos popped up of "refugee" streams from Syria that were overwhelmingly young and male, leading some to say, see, these are not "refugees" it's more or less an invasion force. Turns out, that's nothing new at all; many immigrant flows to the USA, from the Scots to the Irish to the Vietnamese and many in between, would be in heavily gender-imbalanced bursts. So, nothing different there.

  • Mara
    2019-05-01 23:48

    What a great chronicle of immigration history and ethnicity in the U.S. One of the great things about this book (and history in general) is how it expands your understanding of current issues based on past experiences. For those who have lived through the immigrant experience, for those who study it, or for those who are unfamiliar with the topic, this is a wonderful read. "The young are extremely sensitive in matters of honor, and much more so in their patriotic honor! It has been - and to some extent still is - a point of honor to be able to prove that nothing 'foreign' hangs about one's person. Under such conditions how could anyone expect that young people should show only enthusiasm for their forefather's tongue - that would be to expect the impossible." - Ole Edvart Rølvaag

  • Dan Rogers
    2019-05-01 23:37

    I once heard the expression,"there are lies, there are d____d lies, and there are statistics." Well, this book falls in the latter category. I can understand the author's desire to support what he's saying with statistics but I found the charts and percentages too distracting from the central theme of the book. In fact, I eventually got to a point where I tried to skim over the numbers. Unfortunately, the book was so long that I lost interest about 2/3 of the way through. From then on it was simply a chore to stick with it. And that I did only because it was required reading for a summer workshop I will be taking in Maine beginning a week from tomorrow. Definitely not one of my favorites.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-07 23:45

    Coming to America was a mandatory book for my college course, Immigrants in the American Experience. This book provides a very thorough examination of Immigration to America from the first settlers to late twentieth century (the book was published in 2002). Daniels incorporates graphs and tables that provide excellent resources for college papers, etc. I've used this book as a reference for many of my courses. I would recommend this to everyone - it is dense but helps readers interpret and analyze American immigration history. Four stars because it is not my favorite book of all time (as I am more of a European history buff).

  • Whitney
    2019-05-01 02:41

    This is a very good resource about immigration to America. Great data concerning specific immigrant groups throughout America’s history. It is very valuable to have it written in this manner showing the transition of immigration over America’s history. The numbers of certain groups and in particular era’s will be astonishing. This might be statistic heavy; however it is useful concerning research pertaining to this subject or related matter. It is pretty valuable to prove the multiethnic composition of America in particular periods.”

  • LA
    2019-05-03 03:59

    Holistic scope, covering various nationalities in LatAm, European and Middle East. (Central Am., but no South, no Pacific Rim, Africa, except for slave trade.)Puts acculturation = assimilation in same realm.Good bibliography, by only one text by Takaki, Ruiz, and Dinnerstein. Doesn't pity immigrants except for Africans. Sees them as controlling their own destinties. Uses a lot of govt docs for legal portion. HIST 8980: Hawes: Thematic Readings: Fall 2005

  • Tanya
    2019-04-22 03:36

    3.5 stars for a very thorough investigation of immigration to America from the colonial period through 1990. A chapter tacked on to the second edition covers 1990-2000, but is already outdated. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first, perhaps because it contained more information that was new to me. Still, it took me weeks to get through this 500 pager, which is proof that it was less than absorbing.

  • Natasha
    2019-05-19 00:36

    Really interesting and comprehensive history, but I did feel like it was trying to do too much. By covering immigration to the states from Colonial times until the present day, it is able to draw out key themes and patterns in immigration and American culture. However, I felt the analysis of current (1980s - present) issues was glossed over.

  • Art
    2019-05-08 00:33

    A compulsive page-turner! I didn't realize I was so interested in the history of American immigration but Daniels' style, full of anecdotes, stats, and opinion, had me wishing for more detail on each migrant group! Now I'll have to find the comparable Australian tome -- but without Daniels it might be rather academic.

  • Bev
    2019-05-17 22:32

    Book is very comprehensive details, tables, graphs on American immigration but I was surprised at how readable it is. It is filled with interesting details about why immigrants came, where they went, how well they assimilated and those individuals who made a difference in American history. Excellent. Very concise, everything in it is important.

  • Brianna
    2019-05-22 05:51

    Oh man. This book was assigned for a college history course. It was dry and complicated. In other words it is FULL of facts and dates. It is well documented and organized. However it did not capture my attention at all.

  • Kate
    2019-04-24 03:50

    With a timely new chapter on immigration in the current age of globalization, a new Preface, and new appendixes with the most recent statistics, this revised edition is an engrossing study of immigration to the United States from the colonial era to the present.

  • Fredrick Danysh
    2019-05-16 23:35

    This is a study of immigration and ethnicity in regards to immigration to the United States of America. Various racial and ethnic groups are discussed as well as Americans' attitudes toward the immigrants.

  • AskHistorians
    2019-05-18 22:45

    A good broad, general introduction to immigration in American history.

  • Caeser Pink
    2019-05-06 03:49

    Very in-depth, but a engaging, easy read. Provides a great overview of the history if immigration in a nation of immigrants.

  • Mills College Library
    2019-05-16 22:49

    305.80097 D1865 2002

  • Barb28
    2019-05-08 05:32

    Excellent coverage and a very interesting read. Will continue to use as a reference.

  • Martha Jennings
    2019-04-25 01:52

    Statistically rich - an in depth look at immigration and migration.

  • Ange
    2019-05-06 06:53

    I only read the parts of interest to me. My grandparents were part of the immigration movement in the early 20th century. Recommend to those who like reading history books.