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Assimilation, American Style Hardcover – January 2, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (January 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465098177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465098170
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As the debate over immigration levels rages, Peter D. Salins examines how new arrivals integrate themselves into American culture and assesses their combined impact on the society. In Assimilation, American Style, Salins maintains that the naturalization process is the best means for absorbing the nearly one million individuals who come to America each year, placing him midway between the multiculturalists and the restrictionists. He does not believe or expect that all citizens will be alike, but cites certain cultural norms that allow all citizens at least a common understanding of the American experience that will assist in a successful integration into society. As he points out, the real difficulty lies in preventing the continued flood of illegal immigrants from rendering assimilation nearly impossible.

From Publishers Weekly

In this provocative and sure-to-be controversial defense of assimilation, Salins, professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College in Manhattan, argues strongly for the restoration of earlier policies toward new immigrants. He provides an overview of how, historically, immigrants assimilated by embracing the Protestant work ethic when they accepted low-paying jobs with long hours. They also sent their children to public schools, where they were taught exclusively in English and inculcated with the ethos that the U.S. is a nation created by people from many countries determined to make a new beginning. A strong supporter of intermarriage, Salins believes that bilingual education and multicultural programs are divisive and a threat to national unity. While the author's point that the U.S. has been largely spared bloody ethnic conflicts is well taken, his proposal that, to succeed, African American males need only imitate new immigrants by adopting their work ethic is simplistic.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Are you uncomfortable hearing American nativists like Pat Buchanan claim that an invasion of immigrants imperils our country and civilization? Are you disturbed by the alternatives offered by multiculturalism: endless affirmative action, ethnic identification, bi-lingual education through high school, minority dorms and minority studies in college? If so, read this book by Peter Salins and learn how ethnic and cultural diversity can co-exist with American national unity.
Don't be turned off by the title. With the advent of civil rights and multiculturalism, the term "assimilation" has begun to imply a forced loss of ethnic identity and cultural heritage. Peter Salins paints a different view of history of immigration and assimilation in America: "From colonial times to present, millions of assimilated Americans from other lands have lived in their own ethnic enclaves, eaten ethnic foods, and even spoken their original languages." Such ethnic communities did not represent a failure to assimilate; instead they assisted immigrants in dealing with a new country. Some ethnic communities (such as the Amish) have lasted more than a century because they still meet needs of their members.
Salins believes that assimilation in America was characterized by three simple precepts: accepting English as the national language, taking pride in American principles and identity, and living by a "Protestant" [work] ethic (self-reliant, hardworking and morally upright). Immigrants themselves didn't always learn English or identify with American principles, but their children usually did. This unforced assimilation over several generations was fundamental to America's success as a nation of immigrants.
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