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Toward A Better Life: America's New Immigrants in Their Own Words From Ellis Island to the Present Hardcover – September 20, 2011

2.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a welcome reminder that the vast majority of today's newcomers are tomorrow's productive citizens and that they gravitate here for the same reasons their predecessors did for centuries; some of them even become the anti-foreigners of the future." --New York Times, N.Y./Region Bookshelf

"A wonderful book that takes you up close and into the lives of America's immigrants, revealing their hopes and dreams, sorrows and fears." --Lee Iacocca, chairman, The Iacocca Foundation, former CEO and chairman of Chrysler Corporation, founding chairman of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

"While the ethnic details and backgrounds of the people profiled in this book may be different, they all tell the same story. These stories, including my own, are one of transformation, rebirth, and rediscovery. This country was founded not on land and law alone, but on shared beliefs. It is a faith in individualism, creativity, and that with talent and hard work you too can achieve your dreams. My family and I had our American Dream fulfilled after landing on Ellis Island over 80 years ago. The heartening stories in this book echo the words of President Kennedy; the dream still lives and the hope never dies." --Isabel Belarsky, Original Ellis Island immigrant, 1930

"The struggles, triumphs, and sorrows of America's peopling is best conveyed in the words of those who migrated from their native lands to the United States. Peter Coan's valuable collection of oral histories accompanied by photographs and chronologies offers readers the priceless perspective of those on the move between1890 and the present. Some of these newcomers became famous, most did not. All contributed to the building of America's greatness. It is a book that will find its way onto scholars' bookshelves, student bibliographies, and the reading tables of all who appreciate that American history is the history of peoples on the move. The volume will be a fine companion for the new museum exhibitory on Ellis Island which offers the peopling saga in all its richness from the earliest arrivals up to the present." --Alan M. Kraut, PhD, university professor of history, American University, Washington, DC, Chair of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island History Advisory Committee

"Coan's collection of 'new beginning' stories captures the spirit of new Americans. Each story frames a different period of history but the drive, dreams, passion and pride of the subjects hasn't changed over time. Immigrants often leave so much behind in order to bring so much forward." --Claire Tesh, Community Education Center senior manager American Immigration Council Washington, DC

"An important historical chronicle of the American immigrant experience every American should read." --Warren St. John, bestselling author of Outcasts United

"I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and think it is timely and wonderfully captures an important part of our country's history." --Fatima A. Shama, Commissioner Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg New York, New York

About the Author

Peter Morton Coan (New York, NY) is the award-winning author of Ellis Island Interviews: In Their Own Words and the critically acclaimed biography Taxi: The Harry Chapin Story. His work has appeared in Time, the New York Times, Newsday, Travel & Leisure, World Tennis, and many other publications. He is the creator and principal owner of Coanbooks.com.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 379 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616143940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616143947
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,600,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I was hoping the stories would be similar to Mr. Coan's first book "Ellis Island Interviews". Half this book dealt with recent affluent immigrants who really didn't struggle to come to America like the poor who came through Ellis Island. I found it difficult to feel the emotion of people who just hopped on a plane and in a matter of hours were here. I totally skipped over all the pages of statistics and just skimmed through some of the stories after the 1950's. The stories of the Von Trapps has been told so many times that it could have been omitted here. Mr. Coan is an excellent writer and I don't know what happened with this book. There were two stories that repeated almost word for word the feelings upon meeting their mother for the first time in America, thinking the Statue of Liberty was a dedication to her, how the mother was dressed, and initial impressions. It almost sounded like a copy and paste. If you really want to read about immigrants who overcame hardships and made a better life in this country, Ellis Island Interviews is far superior and a must read.
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Heartfelt family histories.
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I didn't like it.
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