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Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199734085
ISBN-10: 0199734089
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Editorial Reviews


"Angel Island skillfully depicts the multilayered interplay of race, nationality, class, gender, American foreign policy priorities, and political sympathies that determined who might enter the United States and who might not.This book is a masterpiece."--Peter Kwong, American Historical Review

"Erika Lee and Judy Yung have written the definitive book on Angel Island. The book is meticulously researched and covers not just the Chinese experience but the experiences of all the people who passed through the immigration station. Lee and Yung have used the personal stories of immigrants to make time and place come alive, reminding us that history is something that happens to real people and their families."--Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of a Chinese-American Family

"With this comprehensive history, Angel Island may now stand alongside Ellis Island as the other iconic gateway to America. Lee and Yung give a thorough and humane look at the immigrants from surprisingly diverse origins who encountered an America both welcoming and unwelcoming on the Pacific coast."--Mae M. Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

"In this meticulously researched and richly detailed book, Lee and Yung have unlocked Angel Island's deepest secrets and the link between US immigration policy and restrictive codas of race, gender, class. Their spell-binding narrative lets us journey with Anglos and Latinos as well as Asians and myriad others as they attempt to pass through the eye of the Immigration Station needle--with often vastly different results. Deeply relevant to present-day immigration debates, this book is people's history at its best."--Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People

"With scholarly care and a great feel for the stories of those who passed through Angel Island, Erika Lee and Judy Yung have finally given this important historic site its due. This book teases out the complexities of America's immigration laws and their enforcement and in doing so greatly adds to our understanding of the immigrant experience."--Vincent J. Cannato, author of American Passage: The History of Ellis Island

"Reading Angel Island, a gripping new book on America's immigrant history, feels like traveling over familiar territory, except that someone turned the road signs in the opposite direction....More than a superb historical text...an essential document in the on-going debate over American freedom."--California Literary Review

"Lee and Yung offer a kaleidoscope of immigrant portraits that bring history alive, and, in the process, demolish many myths and stereotypes about Angel Island and American immigration in general." -San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

Erika Lee is Professor of History and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943.
Judy Yung is Professor Emerita of American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her books include Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island and Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199734089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199734085
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.6 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul J. Markowitz on August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ellis Island has become a national symbol of America's acceptance of immigrants to our shores from all over the world. It, with the neighboring Statue of Liberty, has become an icon of some of the most benevolent and welcoming characteristics of the persona of the United States. Although Ellis Island was the largest point of entry of immigrants to this country, it was only one of 19 immigration stations.

From 1910 to 1940 over half a million immigrants disembarked on Angel Island in San Francisco harbor, often referred to as the "Ellis Island of the west." But where Ellis Island was largely set up as an efficient mechanism to accept immigrants into the United States, Angel Island primarily functioned as a much less efficient mechanism to keep immigrants out. Ellis Island was primarily a processing center for European immigrants that restricted but did not exclude potential citizens, while Angel Island was the main port of entry for Asians that was intent on legally permissible exclusion.

The contradictory relationship of America with its immigrants has a long history that has yet to be resolved. What the authors make abundantly clear is that the United States has long treated immigrants very differently based on race, nationality, gender and class.

From colonial times through the mid-nineteenth century immigration was encouraged to help settle this newly colonized land. There were dirty and dangerous jobs to build a transportation infrastructure and mine badly needed natural resources that many whites were reluctant to attempt. But when the gold played out, the initial stages of the transcontinental railroad were achieved, and the economy faltered - a racial backlash began to occur.
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Format: Hardcover
In response to the reviews that state that the subject matter in Angel Island is less expansive than expected and is too data-driven, I personally found this book to be meticulously researched and accessible to academics and non-academics alike. Based on quantitative and qualitative data, Lee and Yung incorporate personal histories they have discovered from oral interviews past and present--supplemented by data found in the national archives--to weave (and make interesting) a true story that frankly chronicles how America, from the top down, strove to keep certain races out through racism and legislation.

About the authors:
Judy Yung, an early pioneer in the field of Asian American Studies (I strongly recommend reading her social history text, Unbound Feet, about Chinese American women in San Francisco), has a gift for storytelling and also for conducting oral histories. Furthermore, she co-authored Island with Genny Lim and Him Mark Lai, the seminal text on Angel Island poetry. I have not read Lee's book, At America's Gates, but the choice of Lee and Yung as the authors of Angel Island reflects their academic work. Both Yung and Lee are direct descendants of Chinese immigrants who entered into the US through Angel Island, so there is an emotional and generational tie between the authors and the text. Additionally, Yung is 2nd generation Chinese American and Lee, 3rd, allowing for a more multifaceted, generational, and ethnic perspective in reading Angel Island.

Onto a review of the book:
Text has been endorsed by the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, with proceeds benefiting the foundation, itself.
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Format: Hardcover
Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America offers the first comprehensive history of the Angel Island Immigration Station, revealing the stories of numerous immigrants and offering new research based on immigration records, oral histories, and barrack wall inscriptions. Experiences on the island based on this original research provides a fine depth to the story of how Angel Island's immigration policies shaped generations of lives. No California library should be without this!
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By eleanor on December 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book gives important background information, in readable fashion, about immigration to America. Angel Island is usually associated with Chinese newcomers, and It may surprise readers to learn that many immigrants and refugees came there from other Asian countries and from Europe, and how differently they were welcomed than the Chinese. The poignant story is told with scholarly documentation and many photos.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The subject is fascinating. The writing was so bad I couldn't finish the book. Serious editing is required. If you want to learn about immigration to our western shore, find something by someone who can write.
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