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Ellis Island Interviews Paperback – September, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Facts on File (September 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816035482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816035489
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,498,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Coan takes readers on an emotional tour of Ellis Island with this elaborate, readable collection of interviews. As he makes clear, from 1892 to 1924, Ellis Island was truly the ``golden door'' to America; later, quotas and legislation made US citizenship much more difficult to obtain. The voices captured in first-person narrations--bemused, feisty, poignant--express enthusiasm for their new country, but most are unafraid to look back. The book is divided into the geographical regions from which the interviewees emigrated: the United Kingdom, Northern, Eastern, and Western Europe, Scandinavia, and the Middle East. Each interview comes with an introduction revealing where the speaker settled, thus connecting the old stories to the present. A few famous subjects make appearances among the 130+ men and women included: Bob Hope explains how his first sight of the Statue of Liberty is linked to his theme song (``Thanks for the Memories'') and Otto Preminger is frank about his prospects had his film career succeeded in Germany--he would not have been able to escape Hitler. With so many stories, and so many voices, this is a fine collection of primary-source materials. (index, appendix, b&w photos, not seen) (Nonfiction. 10-14) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

To tell their stories, Peter Morton Coan lets the immigrants speak for themselves...All their stories are compelling because they are true, and all are important because they tell our collective American story -- Continental Airlines Magazine, January, 1998

Well presented and expectedly poignant -- Publishers Weekly, October 6, 1997 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the author was adopted and raised by an affluent Jewish family in Manhattan. After graduating high school he befriended singer-songwriter Harry Chapin offering to write his biography and spent seven years traveling with Chapin and his band all the while attending college, the University at Buffalo where he graduated with honors in English and Psychology, and later Boston University where he earned an MS degree in Print and Broadcast Journalism. The former editor of World Tennis magazine and Boating Industry magazine, he has held senior marketing and communications positions as vice president of Fortune 500 companies: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup,TD Waterhouse and TD Ameritrade. He is married with two daughters, lives in Manhattan and is the principal owner of Coanbooks.

Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
I would recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about their roots.
Gina Hinds
Thank you Mr. Coan for wading through the vast volumes of interviews and bringing these inspiring stories out in the open where they can influence us all.
D. Meharg
It takes a lot of courage, confidence and optomism to leave everything behind and cross a great ocean in search of a better life.
V. E. Thompson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up on a whim at the library and couldn't put it down. Since my ancestors passed through Ellis Island to come to America, this subject fascinated me. The stories in this book are memorable and give one the feeling of hope that America once symbolized for so many people looking for a better life. It doesn't paint a perfect picture of immigration, it tells the truth by using the immigrants own life stories. Well worth the read!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Xoe Li Lu VINE VOICE on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
The result of diligent research, intensive interviewing and careful editing, the "Ellis Island Interviews - In Their Own Words" is a historical treasure trove. In the tradition of Studs Turkel, editor Peter Morton Coan has compiled dozens of interviews depicting the Ellis Island immigration experience. In their own words, immigrants from all walks of life relate the stories of their passage, often providing information about the places they came from, what their trip to the United States was like, why the came, and where they went after leaving Ellis Island. Each story is different of course, but each has a common goal: the dream of a better life in America. Coan also includes interviews with Ellis Island employees and provides background information on U.S. immigration policies and Ellis Island operations to help orient the reader.
Coan's excellent research and editing of the interviews has yielded an invaluable resource of our country's immigration history. The stories are fascinating, and the guts and determination possessed by many of the immigrants are beyond admirable. Reading the "Ellis Island Interviews" is a touching and humbling experience - it will help you to better appreciate what those who came before you have endured. Ellis Island ceased to be an INS port in 1954, and almost all of those who came to the U.S. through Ellis Island are now very advanced in age - we have Coan to thank for preserving their stories for generations to come.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Meharg on January 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I work for the National Park Service and we hold the tapes and transcripts to the original interviews from which Mr. Coan based this book. After reading hundreds of these interviews in their orginal form, I can tell you that Mr. Coan has done a great job finding the most interesting ones out of the thousands or interviews of Ellis Island immigrants conducted by the Park Service. Most of the interviews are boring, but Mr. Coan has spared you from the headache of reading those. He has also done a nice job editing the interviews into a cohesive readable piece. In the orginal the person might start telling a story, then get off on a tangent and finish the story later in the interview. Mr. Coan has spared the reader that agony as well. He did do one very odd, and I find annoying thing. For some reason he has altered the original names of some of the immigrants, while keeping others, such as Manny Steen intact. I am not sure why he did that since all of the people interviewed gave the government the rights to make their interview part of the public domain. In changing the names of some of the immigrants he has denied families for years to come the joy of coming upong their ancestor's story in print. Still, there are some amazing stories hidden among the thousands of boring immigration stories and Mr. Coan has brought them out obsurity. Sadly the federal government is in no hurry to get these stories out to the public, so it is up to authors and editors such as Peter Coan to do it. Thank you Mr. Coan for wading through the vast volumes of interviews and bringing these inspiring stories out in the open where they can influence us all.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By csommer@thehartford.com on March 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The 20th century has been a horrible sewer in many ways, yet when you consider the state of people at the start of the century and the general state of us in 1998, we have come a fantastic distance. This books seems to me to underscore the problems of ignorance and poverty and the need for human courage and progress to address those issues. So many immigrant types of problems really revolved around poverty, and the ethic atrocities were a dreadful and misguided reflection on the fact that most of the world was poor and untutored. Everyone in life encounters trouble and sorrow, but our ancestors and ourselves who migrated took on an additional burden. They did it with grace and represent an example for all the rest of us. This author has done a great job portraying the stories of these remarkable people. This just has to be one of the most significant books I have ever read. I hope he writes about Asain and African immigration too, and even about the westward movement within America. The covered wagon folks were really migrants too. Anyway, a superb book. I couldn't put it down and I couldn't stop crying, It is very moving.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gina Hinds on May 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is an incredible book for anyone interested in how their ancestors immigrated to America. It gives honest first hand accounts of people that are currently in their 80's - 100's. I would recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about their roots.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By V. E. Thompson on August 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I loved reading about each persons journey and struggle for a better life. I did not want the book to end and would put it down frequently to save each story for a different day. I plan to pick it up again in the future and re-read it. It was well written and the author did a good job of sharing the immigrants experiences.
It takes a lot of courage, confidence and optomism to leave everything behind and cross a great ocean in search of a better life. Americans can only feel pride in their forfathers and thankful for their journeys. Americans need to read stories like this to remember to appreciate and not take for granted the life they have today
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