Ethnic America: A History
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Ethnic America: A History

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A distinguished economist traces the history of nine American ethnic groups--the Irish, the Germans, the Jews, the Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Blacks, the Puerto Ricans, and the Mexicans--in order to explain their varied experiences in adapting to American society.
Kindle Edition, 353 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1975)
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Each immigrant group has changed in America, and American society has changed in many ways. The most dramatic example is that today there are people sitting in Congress and on the Supreme Court whose ancestors were brought here as slaves. Among the world's leading scientific, political, and economic figures today are Americans whose immigrant ancestors were once dismissed as 'the beaten men of beaten races.' Nothing has so vindicated the untapped potential of ordinary people as the American expe...more
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
In Spanish for the benefit of Spaniards

Este libro es de los primeros grandes éxitos de este filósofo, historiador y economista americano. Con una facilidad que causa admiración el autor describe las sociedades que dieron origen a las múltiples migraciones a Estados Unidos. Explica sus rasgos más acusados, los compara, se adentra en las situaciones sociales y culturales que les hacen particulares: los cubanos, los asiáticos japoneses o chinos, los europeos, etc. Hace falta tener un conocimiento i...more
Jim B
Sowell's tracing the history of assimilation of nine American ethnic groups (Irish, German, Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks--slave and later free, Puero Rican, and Mexican) helps the reader understand the cycle of large groups from a nationality arriving and adapting in America. Every American should read this book in order to discuss immigration or to ponder the race issue in America.
Rob Altemare
Excellent read. How can a guy take such deep and specific technical data and weave it into a fascinating story? Thomas Sowell is one of the most brilliant men in America. Even back in 1986 (or thereabouts) when this story was written, he's already honed his unique ability to make hard data completely fascinating. Amazing!
A great short history of immigration into America – Sowell covers all the major immigration groups including Irish, Germans, Blacks, Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans. What I found interesting is how Sowell treats immigration almost as an evolutionary study of adaptability of various cultures to the host country. Each culture with its own unique history and set of values has its own way of integrating (or not integrating) and adapting to the new homeland. And yes, cu...more
The United States government classifies its citizens and noncitizen residents as American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White; and also as Hispanic or Latino, or not. This is a Borgesian taxonomy that has nothing to do with the historic experience of various ethnic groups in the United States, their cultures, skills and lifestyles; its sheer bizarreness is reminiscent of the Soviet Union's assignment of "nationality" to...more
It always seems like an accomplishment when I finish a non-fiction book, but this one was well worth the seven weeks it took to read it. Ethnic America has some very interesting insights. Sowell analyzes several ethnic groups (Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Italian, African, Mexican, Puerto Rican, German, Jews--each group gets its own chapter) that have immigrated to the United States at various times. He discusses their background in their homeland and reasons for emigrating, how they fared and what...more
Bojan Tunguz
Thomas Sowell is well known for his insightful and thought provoking articles and books. He was never the one to shy away from a difficult subject, and that is certainly the case with as polarizing topic as race and ethnicity. In American political discourse, race and ethnicity are given either too much attention or not enough, and the motivations for the attention given are oftentimes misguided. Between the polar extremes of nativists and cultural relativists, there is a considerable room for e...more
Yi Zhou
This is a history book, which means it is almost impossible for authors to avoid biases when they review what has happened. Although this book explicitly describe the conflicts and struggles of different races in America for the past several decades, there are lots still remaining answering. Also, I feel some comments in the book seem not neutral. I wish it could have provided more evidence of the events and given some suggestions to make America more justice.

Sowell does a good job of describing the immigration patterns into America and tying the immigrants' attitudes and ethics with the countries they came from, the reasons they came, and how their relative numbers influenced their lives here and how they were accepted (or not) by other groups already in America. From a genealogic point of view alone it was fascinating but I also learned a great deal about why certain ethic groups had more or less trouble become Americans (if that was even what they...more
I borrowed this book from the library when I was 16 and my parents were taking us on a family cruise.

I am so glad I read it when I did. It's a very frank sociological text of America's current (yet fading) 3rd rail, ethnicity. I had no idea the author was Black or a leading conservative pundit. I didn't even know anyone of the particular ethnicities that were referred to with frequency (I met my first Italian-American in college).

This weird, wonderful tapestry of our country was intriguingly cry...more
Sep 18, 2011 Gavin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scott Lind
This is another 5 star book from Thomas Sowell.
Sowell writes about ethnic groups in America. He dedicates a chapter to the Irish, Germans, Jews Italians Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Puerto-ricans, and Mexicans. He illuminates how differences in behavior are best explained by the cultures and values of these ethnic groups. The immediate environment which included hardships and discrimination seems to have little influence on the behavior of these groups.

Sowell's writing does not sugarcoat the issu...more
David R.
A detailed sociological analysis of a variety of European, African, Asian, and American immigrant peoples to the United States. Sowell groups largely by nationality (e.g. Italians, Japanese, Mexicans) but makes notable exceptions for Jews, and for Africans and West Indians, which I found odd as he is himself of African descent. While the capsule summaries are insightful from a historical perspective, Sowell gets dangerously close to classifying by stereotype, perhaps unintentionally reinforcing...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
The book is a favorite of mine for its exploration of different ethnic groups and their story in America, their struggles and contributions: the Irish, the Germans, the Jews, the Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Blacks, the Puerto Ricans and the Mexicans. Anglo-Americans are not covered as not being "ethnic"--and neither are Native Americans for similar reasons--since they aren't immigrants but indigenous. It's funny though--one of the bits of information I remember best from this book i...more
One of the most, if not most, level-headed books in cultural studies I have ever read. Documentation is profuse and his analysis is almost disturbingly objective. This is an admirable overview of nine major American ethnic groups. However, cultural studies is by its nature a slippery subject, one that favours the general over the individual, and so it makes me wary, even when expounded as intelligently as in this book. Cultural studies often becomes cultural determinism, thus leaving little room...more
Erin Tse
Pretty clear and easy to understand. The most important thing i've learned from this book, is to analyse the ethnic group culture historically. But I'm not sure if some of the historic facts are accurate or not.

Good book for those who want to get insight to America society.
INFORMATION! INFORMATION! INFORMATION! Should be read by everyone. A must read for serious students of history, politiacl science, economics and socialogy. foctual background and insight into present day make-up and sandards of ethnic groups. I wish Mr. Sowell would revist this material to update, book written in 1981.
"[This] should be required [listening] for anyone interested in policy questions involving race and ethnicity." � New Republic

Listen to Ethnic America on your iPhone, desktop, or smartphone.
Yue (Molly) Tu
Great book, if only it has an updated version! View from 40 years ago... The last few chapters are especially insightful and could apply to other minority groups, such as women. Gave it four stars before finishing I but now think it should be a five.
Jun 19, 2008 Ethan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ethan by: Claire Harkless
I found it to be a little dry and some of the info seemed outdated (1972 Census), but overall it was interesting to learn about the settlement and employment patterns of immigrants as the came to the US.
A really good survey of the different immigrant groups that came to the United States, and the impact each group had on the economics and culture of the nation.
Everyone should read this book. It is certain that I do not agree with everything Mr. Sowell writes, but he makes some very good point.
Kevin Hughes
A really fascinating read. I learned some neat things about my own ethnic group as well as the many others that make up America.
This has to be one on Mr. Thomas Sowell’s best works. His arguments are well written and factually supported.
Interesting stories about ethnic groups in America.
Thomas Bundy
One of the best books I have read.
Kinda boring really, but good info.
Ted marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2014
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholars...more
More about Thomas Sowell...
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