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Chinatown Hardcover – January 1, 1992


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Hardcover, January 1, 1992
$10.00

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (1992)
  • ASIN: B001R6MPAY
  • Average Customer Review: 1.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

1.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "kayy9l" on September 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have to concur with the previous review that this book is written by an outsider. As someone who has grown up in New York City's Chinatown and is still a resident there, I can say that the superficial views represented in this book misrepresent the true core of the community. Kinkead paints an exaggerated image of exoticism and mystery; the book is overly simplistic, quite patronizing and perpetuates stereotypes of Chinese-Americans and Chinese immigrants. The author makes assumptions about how members of the community feel about their own surroundings and manipulates the information that is given to her through interviews and research to reflect her own judgments. This is no documentary. As a Chinese resident in Chinatown, I feel misrepresented and very much the object of the author's fanciful thoughts. The author uses negative stereotypes and generalizations as the points of departure for her statements.
No less aggravating than Kinkead's take on Chinatown are the reviewers' comments on the covers, which reveal that they are as baffled and mystified by the neighborhood as she is. The book is more about the brave outsider who, against all odds, manages to break down barriers and attempts to understand a dark, dangerous and foreign community. Is this really an intimate portrait of Chinatown or a prescribed self-discovery journey? Often Kinkead refers to residents as "prisoners" living in Chinatown. I can attest that I do not feel trapped in my own community and have chosen to live here. And yes, I do venture outside of Chinatown and have "spoken to a white person."
All of the problems I had with this "portrait of a closed society" raise the following issue: perhaps people like Ms.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
To me, this book seems to have been written from a great distance. When are caucasian writers going to stop calling themselves "bold" and "daring" when they "lift the curtain" on Chinatown? Stop all the self-congratulation. This is a book written from the point of view of an OUTSIDER, which is okay, but let's call it what it is. Read "The New Chinatown" by Peter Kwong or "Born to Kill" by T.J. English, both books about the Asian community written with compassion and understanding.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Allen97 on March 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I live near New York's Chinatown and walk through it almost daily. I'm intrigued by the subject of a society that IS very much closed from the rest of America.
This book answers a lot of my questions and is very entertaining and informative; however, it obviously went through several re-writes. Some paragraphs seem stuffed in without any rhyme or reason to them. Confusing. Sentences don't connect with each other.
I hope this book is reprinted with more-recent facts.
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Format: Paperback
Came across this book while spring cleaning, I was assigned this for a class back in 1995 on Asians in America. As the only Chinese person in the class who also happened to have grown up in NYC's Chinatown, I was fortunately placed to counter balance this atrocious "history" offered by Gwen Kinkead. Ms. Kinkead, who parlayed being a daughter of long time New Yorker writer Eugene Kinkead, into a spotty writer for the same magazine decided to tackle a subject that was outside her ability. Instead of doing the tough legwork of real journalism, her book most resembles Journaling, that quasi-writing that comes from the heart and springs mostly from imagination. She conducted some interviews, read a few books, watched a couple o' movies and then ate some dim sum, that was all that qualified her to write this misguiding book.

Chinatown was probably a "Closed Society" to Kinkead because she took a mostly superficial look at the community and concluded that her inability to understand/penetrate "Chinatown" meant that it was full mysterious and inscrutable people. Many of her stories perpetuates the idea of the "otherness" of Chinese Americans. It boils down to her being a limited journalist and a poor writer/story teller. Grasping at the fantastic instead of finding the human stories of that community. it was lazy. But the worst sin IMO was that the book was boring. I'll take wildly inaccurate if qualified with highly entertaining. One without the other gets this book tossed into the rubbish bin.
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