"The Making of Asian America: A History"

Sep 8, 2015

Our guest on ST is Erika Lee, who teaches history at the University of Minnesota, where she's also the Vecoli Chair in Immigration History and Director of the Immigration History Research Center. Lee tells us about her widely acclaimed new book, "The Making of Asian America: A History" (Simon & Schuster). As noted in this book's Introduction: "The 19.5 million Asian Americans in the United States today make up almost 6 percent of the total U.S. population. They increased in number by 46 percent from 2000 to 2010 and are now the fastest-growing group in the country. They are settling in places that have traditionally welcomed immigrants like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, as well as in other cities where such large-scale immigration is new: Atlanta, Las Vegas, Houston, Phoenix, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Asian Americans are changing the face of America. But most people know little about their history and the impact that they have had on American life...." And further, from the pages of The New York Times Book Review: "Sweeping.... Lee's comprehensive history traces the experiences of myriad Asian-American communities, from Chinese laborers in 1850s California to Hmong refugees in 1980s Minnesota.... 'The Making of Asian America' shares strong similarities with other broad inclusive Asian-American histories, most obviously Ronald Takaki's 'Strangers From a Different Shore,' first published in 1989. Lee's book doesn't radically depart from its predecessors so much as provide a useful and important upgrade by broadening the scope and, at times, deepening the investigations.... Fascinating."