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Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 (Naomi B. Pascal Editor's Endowment) Paperback – May 1, 1991
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"The reminiscences are harrowing in their simplicity." --San Francisco Examiner
"This is a book that has long cried out for life in the hearts and memories of those who have survived incarceration on Angel Island. I rejoice that this record of our country's shame has been retrieved from the poetry written in despair on the walls of the buildings on that island." --Kay Boyle, author of Four Visions of America
"Island is a memorial to the souls of unnamed Chinese men and women who left Cantonese homes because of poverty and hope. We are indebted to Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung for their painstaking record." --Jade Snow Wong, author of Fifth Chinese Daughter
"A compelling glimpse at a chapter of American history that only now is beginning to be written. Island helps underscore the fact that this country is, as Walt Whitman described, 'a nation of nations.'" -- San Francisco Chronicle
"To augment the translations of the poems the authors have interviewed older Chinese who once passed through Angel Island and immigration workers as well, and have set their recollections down verbatim as oral history. Together with the interviews, the poems -- angry, heroic, wrenchingly forlorn, despairing, provocative, resistant -- convey, as no secondhand or thirdhand account could ever do, what it was like to be Chinese and to be on Angel Island."―New York Times
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Top Customer Reviews
From 1910 to 1940, all immigrants arriving in California from China - including many who were en route to Mexico or Cuba - were quarantined in wooden barracks on the hidden side of Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, north of Alcatraz. About 175,000 Chinese, men, women and children, spent from three days to three years in detention on Angel Island, and quite a few of them ended up being shipped home.Read more ›
The introduction gave a detail background information so that reader will have a comprehensive understanding of the Chinese in America in that period, subject to discrimination, abuse and violence. Contrary to Ellis Island where Statue of Liberty welcomes immigrants, Chinese arriving the land of free lost their freedom in Angel Island. Facing uncertainty, many waited anxiously for their luck. It is amazing to see this group of Chinese detainees despised and sanctioned as the coolie class from a great Confucius tradition left their poems on the the wall without riot and violence. These poems expressed their frustration, anger, homesick, complaints and unfair treatment in a creative way.
There are sections on interviews for the recollection of the angel Island experiences by detainees, workers and volunteers. The memories brought a cross section on the life in Angel Island. In economic hard times, politicians looked for scapegoat to blame. Police could check, arrest and deport anyone suspicious of being illegal alien. The 110,000 Chinese refused to carry photo identity cards by launching the largest massive civil disobedience in US history in 1892. History repeated itself in Arizona in 2010 with same police authority.Read more ›