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A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Revised Edition)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  2,860 Ratings  ·  198 Reviews
Takaki traces the economic and political history of Indians, African Americans, Mexicans, Japanese, Chinese, Irish, and Jewish people in America, with considerable attention given to instances and consequences of racism. The narrative is laced with short quotations, cameos of personal experiences, and excerpts from folk music and literature. Well-known occurrences, such as ...more
ebook, 529 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by (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
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
Feb 16, 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.
Jun 04, 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 07, 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.
Social History (as opposed to "official" history) has emerged as its own genre in recent years. Perhaps its most famous book is Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. I'll also add to that my personal favorite American Nations. These books eschew the standard fare "big events" or "names and dates" approach to history to focus on the human aspect. Some do this better than others. I'm not opposed to the "big event" type of history - they are, after all, big events. But I support th ...more
B. Mason
Takaki's sweeping text is an excellent introduction to the history of people in the United States who have been oppressed and exploited by the dominant White culture. Really, what he writes in this book is a robust, and concentrated narrative of history that does not shy away from real hurt, violence and affords the reader many opportunities to reflect on how racist and fearful policies of the past are recapitulated in a modern context. While Takaki goes into the violent and painful legacy of vi ...more
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
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
Jun 05, 2007 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
Kathy Jones
Nov 19, 2016 Kathy Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Anna Teggatz for recommending this book to me. It took me a while to read because there is so much to digest. This history book should be required reading in all schools. Often times I think our American history is Anglo biased, leaving out the rest of us feeling marginalized or not significant enough to warrant more than a paragraph or a chapter at best. Our collective history of how we came to be citizens of this great nation is humbling and heartbreaking. There are so may parallels ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
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.
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.
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.
Sep 01, 2014 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.
Dec 09, 2016 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was a "textbook" for one of my classes, but I recommend this to everyone, not only to get a picture of the cultural identity of America, but to also understand how much racism, bigotry, injustice, and violence immigrant groups have had to tolerate. This is vitally important, now more than ever, because our country is at such a battleground state right now when it comes to social issues and issues involving minority groups. Our president-elect and all the extremists of his party are see
Good primer but would need supplemental resources. This book looks at the history of the United States as told by people who came to the country in search for a better life. It is not strictly about immigrating to the US in itself, but rather why and how they came here and what challenges, successes, prejudices, etc. they encountered while trying to make their way on this land.
It is quite dense (in a good way) in the text of the groups that came (or how they adapted/coped in the case of Native
May 18, 2017 Dorian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wish-list
A great narrative retelling of the American identity blending creative works, differing experiences, looking through the looking glass away from the mainstream telling of America. It is as refreshing as it is sad that many of us have to wait until deep into adulthood to see ourselves woven into the fabric of the American story. I can see why this book is so beloved. Ronald Takaki weaved a tale that exhibits the multidimensionality of the American identity construct. A great book as a countervail ...more
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
John Ayer
Takaki misses a lot of important history and pretty much ignores immigrants from Scotland, but, for the most part the author presents an interesting picture of the United States.
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
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
Feb 20, 2017 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of good background in here that I will use with my U.S. history and Peace and Justice classes. Even though it is older, it is still really relevant in terms of understanding the development of racism and privilege in America.
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
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A Different Mirror 2 36 Aug 30, 2014 02:39PM  
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Ronald Toshiyuki Takaki was an American academic, historian, ethnographer and author.
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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.” 7 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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