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Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America Paperback – May 18, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In solid journalistic prose, the Washington Post's Roberto Suro illuminates the critical issues associated with Latino immigration to America--including poverty, bilingual education, and the relationship of Latinos to blacks as well as whites--by depicting the lives of Latino immigrants and their children, all of whom are struggling to make a life for themselves in the United States.

There's a lot more to Latino immigration than Southern California; from Puerto Ricans in New York City to Cubans in Miami, Latinos are transforming America's ethnic makeup and economy. Suro examines why the immigrants come and what happens to them once they've arrived. With an eye to the future (in which Latinos, if organized, may represent a powerful voting bloc), Suro offers common-sense suggestions on how the Latino community can take a proactive stance on illegal immigration and English-language training to facilitate full integration into American society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Anecdotal in form, advocational in content, Suro's exploration underscores the complexity of contemporary experiences in Latino immigration. He arranges the stories by the newcomers' country of origin and the cities where they have concentrated; for example, Dominicans in New York or Mexicans in Los Angeles. Suro, a reporter for the Washington Post, gathers person-in-the-street stories of the Cuban experience in Miami; the Guatemalan in Houston; or the Puerto Rican in New York. As the title implies, he discovers doubts among the new immigrants about American culture, specifically how its plagues influence teenage youth with televised materialism, gangs, drugs, school truancy, ingrained poverty, etc. These issues mix differently from city to city, and shade from the sociological to the political. Suro surveys the latter in terms of the incipient Latino displacement of blacks as America's largest minority, a process most advanced in Los Angeles. A densely textured portrait that concludes with Suro's agenda for a new assimilation process that should engage those involved with Latino immigration. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679744568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679744566
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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A great read and research book.
Koby
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the Latino immigrants and their reasons for coming.
Chancey
We are only hurting ourselves by not making immigrant groups grow and develop and this is truly a problem.
Chase

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
One of the great drawbacks of a lot of contemporary American social science is that you never hear/see/touch any of the real people who make up the aggregated statistics. A skillful journalist and story-teller like Suro shines a light on the stats. It's the only way to understand how that dry abstract thing called "policy" is experienced by living people. Whether you are generally sympathetic to an open door immigration policy, or hostile to it, you'll find plenty that is informative, provocative, enlightening and moving in this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the book, Strangers Among Us, the author, Roberto Suro explores several dynamics about Latino Immigration. He reminds us that Latinos vary in nationalities and is the largest growing population migrating into America. This book gives the reader a realistic view of the changing demographics in America and how Latino immigration can positively or negatively shape the future of our country. Suro also thoroughly examines how Latinos are becoming a crucial part of America's struggle with poverty and race.

Suro dissects the first generation of Latino immigrants and then the second generation of U.S born Latino children. He mentions how the Latino second generation is failing and that it's easier to fall into a decline, rather than move up beyond the everyday barriers. He identifies that the problems arise from children who are advancing quicker than their parents. The children become so absorbed in to the awful parts of the American culture. While the immigrant parents stay detached and continue to focus on making money and saving it. Parents quickly become separated from their children's developmental stages and don't remain a positive cultural influence. Instead, the children adapt to the negative behaviors of American ways, and some immigrants don't know any better.

All of the struggles immigrants face is emphasized in the book, from receiving citizenship, to getting and maintaining a job, and receiving an education. Suro states that the risks of immigrants failing, increases their urge to embrace American culture and that the assimilation process is more willingly achieved to better their life in America. But what about the Latinos who choose to keep their culture and don't embrace the American culture?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frosty Cold One on September 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Even having once lived in a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in Manhattan's LES, I remained mostly ignorant of the socioeconomic forces at work there; this book not only discusses the ups and downs of the Latino community in NYC, but also spends time in California, Texas, and Florida. Suro not only introduces us to dozens of 'ordinary' Latino lives in the USA, he uses their stories to illustrate the dynamics behind demographic trends. He explains to us how the economic stepladder that once followed the 3 generation model of "peddler, plumber, professional" is now broken, and what is happening as a result. The success stories are inspiring, although sometimes bittersweet. Suro's work is full of surprises and engaging statements such as, "anti-immigrant anxieties in American society today cannot be explained simply as eruptions of racism and xenophobia." While this is an incredibly insightful book, the one problem (through no fault of the author) is that it was written before 9/11 - which is very relevant in this case, as the book largely dwells upon the topic of immigration. Suro seems to me to have his own love/hate relationship with immigrants, but I will leave it to you to find out what I mean by this...read his book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Having worked with and given college scholarships to Latino Students for the last 10 years in Washington D. C. I agree with Mr. Suro that education is the basis for Latino advancement.And it does take time. His analysis that the old melting pot has cracked,is astute ,and correct. I do not agree with his solution to stop the influx. To think that an immigrant, once here, would shut the door on the rest of his family, or countrymen is just plain wrong. The hardline approach that Mr. Suro advocates will never be implemented.It is far to mean spirited. It would destroy the immigration of people who truely want to be here. The kind of hard workers that make this country great.His other conclusion that we had better do something quick, or we are going to create a permanent Latino under class is right on the money. I would love to see his Mr. Suro's analysis of Washington DC, where he lives, which doesn't fit into any of his constructs, although appears to combine them all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kat Harmon on April 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
I found Strangers Among Us very captivating and educational. I chose this book because after reading an excerpt I realized how little I knew about the Latino population and their lives in America. I always understood the basic concepts of their immigration to America but I have never understood why they traveled here and for what reasons. Their culture was unknown to me yet I interact with them on a day-to-day basis and have lived next door to them my entire life. Strangers Among Us appealed to me both as an educational and pleasurable read, and helped answer some of the questions I had about this continuing large minority population.

A disturbing chapter for me was about the cantina patrols and how differently Mexican-Americans are treated. It was interesting to hear how one officer readily admitted that he could never get away with the same kind of treatment in a white or African-American neighborhood. If these officers know what they are doing is wrong then why do they keep treating people this way? In my opinion, these officers do it because they know these newly arrived immigrants will not resist and they can get away with it. While reading this it reminded me of the same cycle African-Americans have had to go through in trying to live in this country.

In New York, Puerto Ricans are also facing difficulties surviving in the new world. Suro makes clear that most Latinos entered the United States as sojourners, meaning they come to America to work and make money with the intentions of returning back home when they are done. When Puerto Ricans migrated to New York in the 1950s and early 1960s, they came with great hopes and dreams. In the end, some of the PuertRican population did succeed, but too many ended up poor and with less than what they arrived with.
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