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Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans
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Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  646 ratings  ·  43 reviews
In an extraordinary blend of eloquent narrative history, vivid personal recollection, and oral testimony, Ronald Takaki relates the diverse 150-year history of Asian Americans. Through richly detailed vignettes--by turns bitter, funny, and inspiring--he offers a stunning panorama of a neglected part of American history. 16 pages of photographs.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published September 23rd 1998 by Back Bay Books (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,468)
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Linda
Issues that I had with this book:

1. This book is 491 pages long. Of these, only 24 were spent discussing the experiences of Indian Americans. Was it because Takaki exhaustively covers all Asian immigration to America? No. It's because the book focuses heavily on Japanese, Chinese and Korean immigrants, with lesser amounts of time being spent on Filipino immigrants and as said, 24 pages on Indian Americans. I suppose there are also some short write ups on the experiences of refugees from Vietnam
...more
Mitch
I can only hope and wish that this book ends up in the hands of as many Asian Americans living in white suburbs across the country as possible(I grew up in the midwest).

It's definitely not a comprehensive look at Asian American history. He definitely focuses mostly on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans. There is a whole chapter each on South Asian and Filipino Americans. As a Japanese American, the history portrayed in this book may have meant a little more to me than for other Asian Americ
...more
Z. Rose
This is my inaugural Goodreads review. I felt that this book warranted one because it's subject matter is immensely important to me. During my undergrad, I minored in ethnic studies with a focus on Asian Americans. Myself, being first-generation Filipino American, I've had a curiousity about the influence of Asian Americans in society.

"Strangers From a Different Shore" was the most referenced text in my university's intro to Asian American history course. It focused on an overview of mainly the
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Cyndi
Read for my Asian American History class the book is detailed but not boring relating the story of how different nationalities of Asians came to America and when. Some came willingly and some were forced from their countries due to harsh regimes and American influence. Real numbers are given and real stories with names to personalize the struggle to try to fulfill dreams. Most came not as inhabiters but as sojourners, never meaning to stay but caught in the reality of trying to earn a living in ...more
Rachel Matsuoka
My only comment is: Every American should read this.

An excellent, thorough summation of the American history that is very much absent from our history books. I loved that Takaki incorporated excerpts of poetry and prose written by the men and women of early Asian America to show real emotions and how they dealt with the struggles they were faced with.

A lot was familiar to me, more than I thought. I was amused and delighted at his descriptions of Japanese and Hawaiian culture, island life, the e
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Wai Yip Tung
This is a sweeping 150 years history of Asian immigrant in united states. It traces the situation of various Asian groups, primary Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos. Brought in to fill the labor need, with the largest number concentrated in California and Hawaii, they are often rejected by the mainstream white society. They are treated with hostility, discriminated, marginalized and condemned by constitution for the most part of history.

Today in San Francisco, Chinese is elected to the position bo
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Brian Sperry
Required reading for American History from an Asian-American Perspective class. It was actually pretty good, and often quite insightful. It was hard to keep up with chronologically as the subject tends to jump around by nationality more so than by time.
Noreen
Good historical info on the waves of immigrants, the driving forces getting them to the US and what happened to them when they got here. Interesting general information about Chinese Japanese Korean Filipino's and Indians. Sociology of immigrant labor movements. It's all about communication. Japanese immigrant women had it easier because of the Meiji restoration policy of education for both sexes. For comparison read Thomas Sowells Migration and Culture, the Chinese and the Japanese sections. Th ...more
Candy
No matter how many books and essays I read, there are still more stories to learn from, and still more must be told, to begin to understand the immigrant and refugee experience.
Sam Tia
The last section of the book is a little dated now, as the version I had was from the late 90's, but the first sections are fascinating and the author really makes the story of Asian American immigration come alive. There is a stronger focus on the elements of his own heritage (Hawaii and Japanese-Americans) but overall I found these details to give the book a personal touch rather than just navel-gazing. I also appreciated the emphasis on understanding Asian-American history in the context of l ...more
James Peavler
Incredibly interesting for anyone who is interested in the history of immigration to America. Many of the books out there on Asiatic immigration deals with China. I found it nearly impossible to find anything on any other countries. Although dense in some areas, this is a great beginners book for anyone who does not know much on Asian immigration to America. It covers the entire spectrum, from Chinese to Japanese to Korean to Indians, and gives a great overview of why and how members of these pa ...more
♥ Sarah
Read this awhile back for an Asian American Studies class. A "MUST-READ" for all ETHNIC STUDIES majors or minors. And for anyone interested in the history of Asian Americans. For example, Angel Island, Chinatowns (ghettos, vices, prostitution), Hawaii (sugar plantation workers), the Chinese Exclusion Act, racism, Asians as "model minorities" and so much more.

Poignant blend of historical facts, narrative, diaspora, and the Asian American experience as a whole.
Andrés
It is difficult to determine where ideology ends and the truth begins in this book. In bringing to light the lives of the forgotten, Mr Takaki has to be commended. His writing style is also significantly more approachable than most academics'. However, his political purpose of forging a common Asian American experience runs contrary to the facts and his conclusions tend to arrive before their supporting evidence does. In sum, Mr Takaki cuts an ambiguous figure.
Terri
I'm saddened that I no longer own this book but it was a good read. I'm so touched by the struggles and obstacles immigrants had to endure throughout the course of American history - not known to many people. I'm glad there are books like this that can offer many viewpoints for our culture to explore. This is definitely a well-written and amazing book that can enhance one's perception in diversity and pluralism - especially for college students.
Jackie
Have you heard of Angel Island? It is west coast counter-part to Ellis island where thousands of Asian immigrants came to this country seeking a new life. It's part of history that still seems woefully absent in our education system. This historical book reads like a novel, accounting the heart wrenching stories of Japanese, Chinese, Filpino, Indian and other immigrant groups who were an integral part of building this nation.
June
a historical, picturesque account of Japanese lives in America, started from their incoming to their breeds. Takaki explains how Japanese grew in population through stages of policy adoption. The best one I remember is the opening of Ellis Island for Japanese mail bride, which swelled into big matchmaker business at that time. Takaki also depict the situation faced by these brides in their newly lands. Such well and lively exploration.
Michelle
American immigration history over the centuries, with original sources - writings, newspaper clippings, etc. The author addresses Asian immigration in particular, but provides insight that is applicable to today. We have wrestled with this issue since the 1700's, and our public policy changes have reflected the struggle. This drama hasn't changed, only the actors.
Jess
Jan 12, 2009 Jess is currently reading it
I feel like i've already gotten the "point" of this book from reading the introduction. I hope that the book focuses a little more instead of layering numbers & statistics as a way of trying to convey its importance. Relevant social dissection & plans to change stereotypes would be the true important factors of a cultural history.
Kodi
I read this book for my Asian-American History class and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Takaki covered a lot of history and difficult concepts using personal stories and anecdotes and less of high-academic writing that can alienate the reader. In this way, it was easier to follow, to understand, and kept me engaged.
Marcelle
Mar 22, 2007 Marcelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: asians who wanna find their roots
Probably one of the best written, most interesting history books I've read. (And I'm not just saying that cause of my hapa bias). I've read about half the book so far - Takaki doesn't hold any punches and freely talks about the good and the gritty about the immigration, and settling, of Asians in America.
Kiki Unhinged
If you like reading personal accounts of Asian immigrant experiences this book is for you. I found it to be too much fluff making it longer than necessary and more tedious to read. However, it was also quite eye-opening.
Lynn
All US History teachers should use this book. All people living in the US should read this since most US History teachers don't use this book. Well written, well researched, interesting. Up there with Zinn's histories.
Kelly
If you like reading personal accounts of Asian immigrant experiences this book is for you. I found it to be too much fluff making it longer than necessary and more tedious to read. However, it was also quite eye-opening.
Fay
he uses the phrase "strangers from a different shore" on almost every page of this book. the annoyance from that alone sorta overshadowed any positive feelings i had about this. it's basically a history book.
Leilani
For me this book was much easier to follow than most history books. It is a great intro to the topic, and I wish I had read it much earlier in my life.
Linda Le
required reading for intro to asn am as a freshman in college...still is one of the most poignant, insightful books to date on asn am history and diaspora
Katie
Among the books I have not finished, I would pick this book to add to my must-read list. Takagi really did an admirable job as a historian and writer. Cheers~!
Selena
Great book with lots of tidbits I never knew. Also great for finding other resources. Finally really sitting down to read this for my research.
Carling
This is the first Asian-American history book. Everyone should read it and get an immigration story that is not taught in American history classes.
Anna Kim
Too often history has not been kind in its portrayal of Asian Americans, more often leaving them out of the books. Takaki's book fills in that gap.
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