A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America
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A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,492 ratings  ·  147 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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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...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
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
Yan Kadouri
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
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
Josefina Duran
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...more
Gary Land
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
Ryan Mishap
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 20, 2008 Korel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
Similar to Zinns "Peoples History", except with a slightly different focus. Very interesting and informative.
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
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...more
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
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...more
Krystl Louwagie
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Wing Kit
This book was about the immigration of many different types of people of different cultures, races and other features. It gave reasons of why certain ethnic groups wanted to come to America and why they wanted to leave their own country. Most of these reasons were because of economic issues within their own country and that they sought for more economic opportunities. One group, the Chinese wanted to come to America for more money and opportunity. Life in America was rumored to be full of wealth...more
A great alternative history of the United States to both traditional text and the like of Howard Zinn. Focus is less on the events we've all read and learned about and more on the specific ethnic groups that make up the American population. Written as all good history books are - weaving together the different pieces of the web to tell a different sort of story - one well worth reading.
Sharon Lee
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
Takaki emphasized that America’s history is understood differently depending on what mirror it is viewed through. He wrote, “We can be certain that much of our society’s future will be influenced by which ‘mirror’ we chose to view ourselves” (p. 17). Therefore, his book told the ethnic history of some of the United States’ most influential minorities. Takaki’s record of these histories was interspersed with a plethora of historic writing, poetry, and songs that began to convey the deep tapestry...more
This is an awesome (sometimes a little dry) book that will enlighten anyone who has been educated on US history in US school systems. At least during the 80s and 90s...There is so much that has been left out and everyone should read this book!
Franklyn C
Dec 09, 2010 Franklyn C is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
In this book i learned how slaves were being seen in the eyes of Thomas Jefferson. It described his plans for future generations of the African Americans that were slaves, how basically he would send all of the black children to other countries. So they won't be raised with such violence and bad behavior which can go on for future generations. Thomas Jefferson was a very conflicted person because he owned slaves but still was one of the anti-slavery leaders. In this book there is alot of Irony,...more
Qing Yu
I enjoyed reading the chapter on Asian Americans. It was interesting reading about Chinese immigrants coming to America. They didn't have anyone here in America which sounded really scary to me. The first Chinese immigrants who came here had no experience and no one to depend on. At least now when Chinese immigrants come to America, there would be many other Asians whom they could learn from and make friends with. I imagine the first immigrants to be very lonely and the only reason they came to...more
Danny Lam
A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, by Ronald Takaki, is a gathering experiences of different groups who were living in America during the great periods of immigration. There were certainly advantages of coming to America, but there were also disadvantages. This non-fiction text includes many truth about the lives of Asian, European and Latino groups. This book isn't quite like other books, that has organized plots. This book introduces statistics and facts about the immigran...more
Elizabeth Hernandez
Had to read it for my Race && Relations class && im super glad I did. I was always excited to read the new chapter. very eye opening && such a wonderful perspective of the "master narrative." Amazing book!
Bigotry and prejudice are part of the human condition, not uniquely American problems. The idea of America is to overcome those prejudices. The experiences highlighted in this book hopefully show that the 'idea' of America hasn't failed, only that human nature is highly resistant to change.
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A Different Mirror 1 28 Mar 09, 2009 12:03PM  
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  • Readings for Diversity and Social Justice: An Anthology on Racism, Sexism, Anti-Semitism, Heterosexism, Classism, and Ableism
  • Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs
  • Critical Race Theory: An Introduction
  • White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism
  • Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People
  • The Racial Contract
  • The Karma Of Brown Folk
  • The Possessive Investment In Whiteness
  • The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America
  • Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture
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