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A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,283 Ratings  ·  176 Reviews
Upon its first publication, A Different Mirror was hailed by critics and academics everywhere as a dramatic new retelling of our nation's past. Beginning with the colonization of the New World, it recounts the history of America in the voice of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States—Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, a ...more
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Published March 31st 2011 by Tantor Media (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jose Palafox
A few days ago, I attended a beautiful memorial service at UC Berkeley for Professor Ronald Takaki. After struggling for over twenty years with MS, he took his own life on May 26 of this year.

Prof. Takaki was my mentor, friend, and comrade for over 15 years while I was an undergrad and grad student at UC Berkeley.

After the service, these thoughts came to me.

Many years ago, Prof. Takaki asked me if I wanted to go to graduate school. I told him yes...actually, I said maybe. Both of my parents were
Apr 25, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning, there was only one version of American history -- the one that began with the "discovery" of North America by Europeans, particularly the English, who created a beachhead of "civilization" on the East coast and then conquered a series of "frontiers" moving westward until they "won" and became God's gift to humanity, creating a country which is like a city built on a hill shedding light and progress everywhere else on earth . That is the history I was taught in the 50's and earl ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Ahmed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
This book does not only depict the history of multi-cultural America but also predicts the future of multi-cultural America in a very pleasant and smooth way. The very beginning (A Different Mirror: the making of multicultural America) is the best part of the whole book. I just Love it. It gives general view and outline of how America has become multicultural. It is simple and straight to the point. Sometimes, you forget that you are reading a textbook full of Info, rather you think yourself rea ...more
Tony Zheng
This book is about point of views from different people who came to America thinking about having a better life, but came here only be put at work, discriminated and hated. But later generations saw what their ancestors went through and put more effort into education and business because they saw the good jobs came from education. People tried to fit into the American Society but they were not so easily accepted. From the two chapters that were read which were "Searching For Gold Mountain and Pa ...more
Ryan Mishap
Oct 21, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Covers different ground than Zinn's People's GHistory, and it isn't nearly as long and sweeping, but it also covers things Zinn barely touched on or didn't mention. Especially Hawaii--where the author's family is from. Well worth reading for the history you didn't get in school. My only complaint is that he frames the whole book through "The Tempest", using Caliban as the Other through which to view the history of the so-called New World. It gets annoying after the third time.
Jul 11, 2015 Arthur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recently a student told me how angry she was about how much of American history was "kept from her." By "kept," she was commenting on her own education and the depth of ignorance that her education created by ignoring or "whitewashing" (her word) the whole history of her country--the USA. Using only one lens left her more than half-blind.

Finishing this remarkable history of immigration, our consistent use and abuse of the Other (sometimes invited, often forced, usually used, seldom valued) in o
Yan Kadouri
Dec 09, 2010 Yan Kadouri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Different Mirror : A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki is a book which provides the readers with perspectives of people who come form different cultures and how they are accepted by the American people but also Ronald Takaki does a good job in taking this events form the past and attaching them to modern day society and how the idea of racism has not disappeared.A on going theme is us against them because on one side the owners who are bringing this racism to the different race ...more
Gary Land
May 10, 2010 Gary Land rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time that I have read this book. It is a highly readable history of American immigration and ethnic history, of interest to both the scholar and layman. My only criticism is that Takaki concentrates so much on the difficulties--racial prejudice, legal discrimination, etc.--, all of which is certainly true, that he neglects to explain why immigrants kept coming to the United States and what happened to them into the third and fourth generation that was born in America. Nonethel ...more
Jul 20, 2008 Korel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All High School students and Everyone else
Recommended to Korel by: many people
This book and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States are the typical coming-of-age my-high-school-history-class-didn't-mention-that-capitalism-is-oppressive-ah-ha! books. These books also tend to be a foundation for many of us white folks to start understanding racism as something real, still alive, and the basis of our economy. Be sure to read something light hearted at the same time, unless you have a strong sense of optimism.
Sharon Lee
May 09, 2013 Sharon Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of students (myself included) lack true knowledge and understanding of real history. Growing up in a public school I was not taught or told of the stories of minority groups, rather only the victories of America and how the US "made a way" for other countries. Takaki includes personal experiences as well as the experiences of oppressed minority groups in order to present the notion of "A different mirror". Many people below have commented on Takaki's credibility and writing; however, he is ...more
Josefina Duran
Jan 22, 2009 Josefina Duran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a REAL history book. Im pretty upset at myself for not have taken a class with Ronald Takaki while I attended Berkeley.

This should be a high school text book.

Although there are many truths to people's histories and as the author mention not everyone's histories are presented in this book.

If you ever wonder why a group of people are in this land, this is the book to reveal that and much more. This book exposes the truths of the atrocities committed to native people, language, culture a
Danika at The Lesbrary
Jan 04, 2016 Danika at The Lesbrary rated it liked it
Shelves: non-lesbian
This was probably not the best book to listen to as an audiobook. It has a lot of facts and stats, and I feel like I zoned out quite a bit. This was an interesting overview of the history of the US from various racial/ethnic viewpoints, but in trying to cover so many different groups over such a long time period, it did feel disconnected at times.
Amanda Erickson
Mar 01, 2015 Amanda Erickson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book gives readers a look into the American history many of us were never taught about in school – at least not in depth. It tells us the truth about many aspects of this country’s foundation and the events that aren’t necessarily pretty enough for typical history books.

Takaki relays American history from the eyes of the people who participated in it, the people who are hardly acknowledged for their part in building America. Takaki breaks the book up into four portions: Part One: Foundation
Oct 06, 2014 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for a class in grad school quite a few years ago, but the stories and perspectives Takaki offers still invade my mind from time to time. In the realm of multiculturalism, it can be easy for forums to quickly turn to derision and insults when one feels threatened. Here, Takaki speaks in a very objective voice that seems to be merely stating facts. It seems he felt confident that the facts would speak for themselves and needed no extra overtones, and that was what I appreciate mos ...more
Mar 20, 2015 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A _MUST READ_ panoramic history that blows away the stereotypical image of the United States as a happy melting pot. Using primary sources, Takaki shows how the bourgeoisie consciously used institutional racism to expand and maintain capitalism at the expense of Native Americans, Africans and Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Jewish and other immigrant groups. Riveting.
Nov 28, 2009 Vonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as an assignment for my history class. It was long, but not difficult. I learned a lot about the multi-cultural building of the United States. I was previously unaware of how difficult it has been for minorities in the U.S. I am left with many questions, especially regarding how we as a nation can come together as one nation, under God.
Hannah Emery
Dec 18, 2014 Hannah Emery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book on my shelf literally for 5+ years (picked it up from a university book box) and finally got around to reading it. It's a good read overall, though I would say that I enjoyed the early chapters focused on particular groups and time periods more than the later "catchall" ones. I would have been curious to know how Takaki chose which groups to include: his history includes the experience of indigenous North Americans as well as immigrants and their descendants from West Africa, ...more
Alex Houseknecht
Nov 20, 2014 Alex Houseknecht rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
This is a stunning work on the history of America, seen through the eyes of the many, culturally different inhabitants of the nation. The author challenges the popular white-master-narrative history seen in much of the history literature in the U.S. Astonishingly, the author is able to weave in many ethnic groups, and find ways to intricately interweave systemic and individual stories throughout the historical timeline.

What I love about this book is the clear and continuing connection that is ma
Mar 01, 2015 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
This book changed my life. My gratitude to you Dr. Takaki for taking the time to compose this quality history book.
May 06, 2008 Daniela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Similar to Zinns "Peoples History", except with a slightly different focus. Very interesting and informative.
Gabriela Medvetska
This book was assigned for my English 1A (Writing Composition) class at Mission College with Jonathan Brennan and at first I was pretty skeptical about its concept. However, when the moment came to read it and analyze how multiculturalism is reflecting in everyday American life and how every single thing in somebody's personality (an innocent though, emotion, word, stereotype, prejudice) influences the way he/she behaves I was just astonished.

I've been in America for 4 months so far and this is
Sep 23, 2013 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Has an interesting premise, but doesn't quite have the depth I expected. It mostly consisted of a series of formulaic tales of woe—here is how group X came to America, and how decent and hard-working they were, and how the Anglos mistreated them, and here is how group Y came here, and also worked hard and was decent, and was also mistreated, etc. I guess there might still be people out there who have prejudices about minorities and aren't aware that this country has a history of racism and ethni ...more
Mar 23, 2013 erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In A Different Mirror, Ronald Takaki takes on the daunting task of writing a history of the United States that reflects the experiences of racial/ethnic minorities with style and a multitude of sources.

This is a hefty volume, as it should be, but don't let its size deter you. The content is fascinating. For the wide variety of times and peoples covered, Takaki does an admirably in-dept job and bolsters his assessments with a variety of sources including firsthand accounts, interviews, sociologic
Apr 06, 2012 Khinna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I originally gave this book four stars, but after thoroughly reading it a second time around. I can't even begin to tell you how impressed I am with this book. It doesn't just give the history of how White European history created our America, but includes Native American History, African American History, Irish American, Jewish American, and Asian American history. I feel this book is much more relevant to my own family history than trying to identify with not the myopic, one dimensional histor ...more
May 17, 2012 Andre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid and illuminating history of minority/non-white cultures in the US from pre-independance to ~2006. Much of it really depressing. I know, of course, that everybody was oppressed, but damn! So many ways to oppress people! And basically every non-white group, for 300 years.

It really makes me want to think of the history of the US as an endless vale of tears, rights denied, opportunities barred, and dreams deferred. Americanness(oppression) > Americanness(freedom), in short. Why, again, is a
Krystl Louwagie
Aug 28, 2010 Krystl Louwagie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review from 2008:

This was the book assigned for the freshmen to read as "summer reading" before their first year of college. It will be the subject for their first paper they all have to write and how they will be assessed on their writing skills. Because I'm on staff at Hamline in the Residential Life Office, I was supposed to read it as well and got a free copy. So, I finally finished it.

In my opinion, it was a bad pick for freshmen to read. It's not that it's un-interesting, or not valuable i
Jul 30, 2012 Katrine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While travelling to a conference on multiculturalism, Ronald Takaki, whose ancestors came to America more than 100 years ago, is complimented on his English by his taxi-driver, and asked where he "comes from". This anecdote is the perfect starting point for Takaki's book, which aims to show how American society has come to accept certain ethnic groups as more American than others. It is a fascinating history of the United States, not really alternative, but as the title indicates, different. Aft ...more
Oct 23, 2012 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars. Docked half a star because at times all his references to The Tempest can be a bit too much, not to mention the insertions of songs, poems, etc. While it adds to the realism of the events (in that people are making poetry about any particular event), sometimes the placement in the text distracts the readers from the events instead of pulling them in.

Apart from that, I think this is an excellent book on the history of multicultural America. I've read a few US History books
I read this book a few years ago for a college class.

I picked it up eagerly, very interested in the stories of minorities, and how different groups came to this country. I think I slept through high school history classes, so this promised to be new material. Add in my love for a good conspiracy,and it would seem like the PERFECT book.

It may have been.. if I wasn't simultaneously taking an early American Literature class, and therefore read the source documents that Mr. Takaki was getting his in
Takaki brings together a multitude of voices to tell the rich, complex story of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States: African Americans, Asian Americans, Indians, Jews, Latinos, and more.

He begins with the colonization of North America by the Europeans and "the racialization of savagery", whereby the Europeans came to believe that the Indians were different from and inferior to them, and that this difference was based on race and skin color. Then he goes on to examine the experiences of o
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A Different Mirror 2 36 Aug 30, 2014 02:39PM  
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“I believe our education system as a whole has not integrated the histories of all people into our education system, just the Eurocentric view of itself, and the White-centered view of African Americans, and even this is slim to nonexistent. What I find is that most people don't know the fact they don't know, because of the complete lack of information.” 3 likes
“the study of diversity is essential for understanding how and why America became what Walt Whitman called a “teeming nation of nations.” 1 likes
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