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The New Americans: How the Melting Pot Can Work Again Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; First Edition edition (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895262029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895262028
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,346,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report is one of the smartest political writers in the country. In addition to his journalism, Barone is the coauthor of the biannual Almanac of American Politics--an essential tome for inside-the-Beltway pundits and other political junkies--as well as the curiously underappreciated Our Country, an excellent history of the United States from FDR to Reagan. In The New Americans, Barone brings his vast knowledge and sharp talents to the ever-present dilemmas of race and ethnicity.

As millions of immigrants stream into the United States from around the globe--including many countries that traditionally have not served as sources of immigration--Barone helpfully calms jittery nerves about cultural transformation: "We are not in a wholly new place in American history. We've been here before." In fact, we were here at the last turn of the century, when newcomers from Ireland, southern Europe, and elsewhere flocked through Ellis Island. "Many learned savants predicted a hundred years ago that the immigrants of their day could never be assimilated, that they would never undertake the civic obligations and adapt to the civic culture of the United States. History has proven them wrong," writes Barone. "We need to learn from America's success in assimilating these earlier immigrants, as well as from the mistakes that were made along the way." The bulk of the book is a set of comparative studies outlining the surprising similarities as well as the differences between Irish immigrants and today's African Americans, between Italians and Hispanics, and between Jews and Asians. In each instance, Barone believes the experiences of the former reveal something about the latter as its members struggle to adapt to their new home. The approach is like the one Thomas Sowell took many years ago in his landmark book Ethnic America; in many ways, The New Americans is a much-needed update of that pioneering work.

What's most compelling about The New Americans, however, is how Barone's own politics, which lean to the right, find a welcoming place for this new wave of immigrants, contra Pat Buchanan and a certain type of conservative. "What is important now is to discard the notion that we are at a totally new place in American history, that we are about to change from a white-bread nation to a collection of peoples of color," concludes Barone. "The descendents of the new Americans of today can be as much an integral part of their country, and as capable of working their way into its highest levels, as the descendents of the new Americans of a hundred years ago." --John Miller

From Publishers Weekly

Barone, a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report and co-author of the Almanac of American Politics, argues that minority groups of today resemble the immigrant groups of the previous century in important ways. Black migrants who left the rural South for the industrial cities of the North resemble today's Irish immigrants; coming from places where they were second-caste citizens, both have eschewed entrepreneurship and suffered high crime rates. Italian immigrants, like today's Latinos (especially Mexicans), came from countries where the government and culture discouraged trust in institutions; both have prized work over politics. Both Jews and East Asians have relied on strong families and educational attainment to move into the American mainstream. The lesson of past assimilation, according to Barone, is that to succeed, groups must "transform dysfunctional habits of mind" and adopt others "that are functional in this new country." Yet while his historical analogies can be convincing, their policy implications are unclear. Barone believes that the main obstacles facing blacks are the policies of the American elite racial quotas and preferences that sustain a sense of racial grievance but strangely, he downplays job and education policy. Sometimes he seems to minimize the present-day challenges of assimilation, quoting sociologist Orlando Patterson's sanguine assertion that America's racial divide is "fading fast" ignoring the fact that intermarriage statistics for blacks are much lower than those of any of the other groups he discusses in the book, suggesting something enduring about the aftermath of American slavery. Still, despite its flaws, this is a provocative read. (June)Forecast: This book seems almost certain to attract review attention, especially given the prominence of the author, a McLaughlin Group regular.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Human action can't create Utopia.
Archimedes Tritium
What Mr. Barone is encouraging people to do is to think differently about how America views immigration AND race.
Gary R Karr
This is because Barone's book is largely dialectical, not empirical or analytical.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Newt Gingrich THE on July 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Every American who wants to understand the hope for our future and the destructive attitudes and policies of our elites toward integration and assimilation needs to read this book. Everyone who wants to understand the difference between Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda and America should read this book.
This is a breathtaking tour of how American weaves a pattern of achievement and opportunity and how various ethnic groups have responded and are responding to it. The heart of Barone's thesis is that America has successfully integrated and assimilated people of different backgrounds, and that there are patterns to that assimilation that are working for 21st century new Americans just as they worked for the 19th and 20th century American immigrants. Barone asserts that the modern elite's attitude toward group identity, opposition to middle class society, and assertion of racial grievances actually retards the process of assimilation. He regards most bilingual education as a political spoils system for bilingual teachers, which actually hurts the very people it is designed to help. He notes that patterns of intermarriage and upward mobility in income and education are creating assimilative patterns even as university elites seek to divide young Americans by race and teach them to focus on historic grievances rather than future opportunities.
It is impossible in a short review to do justice to the brilliance of Barone's writing, the depth of his research, or the clarity of his examples. His parallels between Irish and African Americans, Italian and Latino immigrants and Jews and Asians are profound and extraordinarily thought provoking.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peter Ingemi VINE VOICE on July 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Barone thesis that the "new" groups (blacks, latinos, and asians) pursuit of the american dream runs parallel to earlier groups; (Irish & blacks, Italians & latinos, Jews & asians) is a well argued case. His arguement that blacks (or african americans if you perfer) belong in the "new" group becasue it was only in the 50's and 60' that the death of "Jim Crow" gave them the full rights of Americans everywhere is well made. There are several revelations here for modern americans who decended from these groups (not the least that Italians were not considered "white" and that all three groups were considered different races.) and these revelations should be noted and remembered by those who achieved the American dream thanks to the efforts of their grandfathers and grandmothers. It is an optomistic book about an optomistic future for this country and it argues that the growing pains of assemilation which every past ethnic group went through is the same pain that we their decendants don't recognize in others. He believes it will pass and in the end the genius of the concept of America will prevail for the benefit of all. I like the arguement and despite the time, happily subscribe to it. READ IT
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gary R Karr on January 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Some of the criticisms of Mr. Barone's work, mostly from the anti-immigration nativists, seem to me to be wholly misguided. What Mr. Barone is encouraging people to do is to think differently about how America views immigration AND race. I think he clearly, and devastatingly, shows that today's victim-oriented, quota-based debate hurts the people it's designed to help. He also encourages Americans to be more hopeful about the ability of society to slowly assimilate different 'races' (he makes the point frequently that Jews and the Irish were once thought of as a 'race') and the ability of those 'races' to succeed in America.
I took this as a treatise much less on immigration policy than on what truly works for all American families to succeed. At it's core, it remains uncomplicated: a strong family structure, desire to succeed in school and an interest in success in the entreprenurial world. Very rarely is it about government programs, set-asides or quotas.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. WHITTEN on September 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Those who are worried about the future of our nation's culture will be reassured by Barone's thoughtful book. Drawing heavily on the scholarship of such thinkers as Sowell, Fukuyama, and the Thernstroms, he makes a compelling argument that today's generation of immigrants strongly resembles those of the last century. No-one today would consider the Irish, the Italians, or the Jews to be anything but an asset to American society. Yet a century ago each of those groups was considered a threat to the American way of life. Today, the Latinos and Asians are viewed by many in the same way. Blacks are treated by Barone as an immigrant group in that they have made a mass migration from the rural South to the industrial North, thus starting over in a new culture. Each of these immigrant groups shares many similarities with the three fully assimilated groups from the prior century. Barone makes a forceful case that the success of last century's immigrants resulted from both their cultural capital of survival traits and their assimilation with the dominant culture. As someone who bristles at the worship of "diversity", I must say that I found his analysis very reassuring. I agree, however, with one of the critics on this board that he should have been a bit more circumspect at interweaving his personal political opinion, though I probably agree with him in most matters.
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