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A Nation of Immigrants

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  455 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Throughout his presidency, John F. Kennedy was passionate about the issue of immigration reform. He believed that America is a nation of people who value both tradition and the exploration of new frontiers, people who deserve the freedom to build better lives for themselves in their adopted homeland. This modern edition of his posthumously published, timeless work—with a n ...more
Paperback, 111 pages
Published September 1st 1986 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1964)
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Mark Taylor
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
When he was a young man, John F. Kennedy had dreams of being a writer. The second son of Joe and Rose Kennedy, he was not the golden boy his older brother, Joe Jr., was. Joe Jr. was hale and robust, while Jack, as John was known to his friends and family, was frail and sickly, plagued by a bad back and constant stomach problems. After Jack wrote his senior thesis, his father helped him get it published in 1940. Titled Why England Slept, it was an examination of the policy of appeasement under Pr ...more
Megan
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing that what JFK had to say about immigration 50 years ago still rings true today. I'll be sharing this with my 8th graders this year.
Rick Patterson
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Imagine a president who was interested in changing an American law that was, in his estimation, "without basis in either logic or reason." Because he wanted to convince his fellows in Congress that his legislation had merit, this president researched the subject--his bibliography has nearly 100 titles--and composed a treatise that summarized the information and led to his argument in favor of changing the law. The law was changed, of course; given that sort of intellectual rigor and respect for ...more
Cat J
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm torn between 3 stars and 3 1/2 stars...unfortunately the majority of the book was just regurgitation of facts, some interesting, and I'm sure during the time this was originally written it was probably a novel idea to even put these ideas out there. It's only until the end where Kennedy actually adds some analysis/stances on his end, and I will say there are some gems of wisdom. My personal favorite being, "It reminded every American, old and new, that change is the essence of life, and that ...more
Jessica
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The continuous immigration ... was thus central to the whole American faith. ... It reminded every American, old and new, that change is the essence of life, and that American society is a process, not a conclusion."
Dave
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a short book written and updated by John F. Kennedy in preparation for his proposal to comprehensively reform immigration in 1963. It contains two forwards, by Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Abraham H. Foxman, then national director of the Anti-Defamation League. It proposes that we live up to ideals. As Kennedy notes, inscribed at the Statue of Liberty is, "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free". Although more than 50 years old, its amazingly pertinen ...more
Leigh Anne
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is going in my stack of books to have the kids read in high school.
Niloy Mukherjee
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tinely and just as relevant today as when it was written sixty years ago.
Maybe even more so.
Contention around immigration in America is as old as America itself. This truth may be a bit upsetting but there is a glimmer of hope in this reality. We have faced the demons of xenophobia before and, against all odds, triumphed.
And so we shall triumph again.
Mallory
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Americans
Shelves: history, nonfiction
I can think of no other title that is more perfect to read right now. Highly recommended.

Favorite quotes: "It is no accident that freedom of religion has always been a central part of the American creed. People who crossed oceans for the right to believe in their own God were not lightly going to surrender that right in their new life."

"Only one thing is certain - every immigrant served to reinforce and strengthen those elements in American society that had attracted him in the first place. Th
...more
Maria
President John F. Kennedy talks about how immigration is America's history — about how America is a nation of nations, a beacon of hope for the oppressed, and a haven for political refugees.

Having read this book in 2014, I have come to understand how immortal JFK's words are. He explains how almost every American today (and ever) can trace their roots to an immigrant, and trashes the idea of racial "purity."

This book is one of the many in which makes me wish that JFK lived longer than 1963. I wo
...more
Ezra
I was interested in reading this because JFK was the grandson of Irish immigrants. The Irish (and Italians, Chinese, and others) at one point were the targets of the kinds of language we saw just recently during the 2016 presidential election. He also was a senator and president who had to consider policy. From what I knew about him, his speeches expressed faith in American ingenuity and ability to tackle the greatest challenges.

This book did not disappoint. Well written, it is an easy read. He
...more
Margo
Jun 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: norte
For 1964, a very compassionate portrait of the contributions of immigrants as a whole, and the various contributions of certain nationalities. Updated in the 2008 edition with introductions and appendices.

"[One:] way of indicating the importance of immigration to America is to point out that every American who ever lived, with the exception of one group, was either an immigrant himself or a descendant of immigrants."

"One writer has suggested that "typical American menus" might include some of th
...more
Zach Vaughn
In seven short chapters, President John F. Kennedy discusses the role of immigration in American history and how government policy has shaped immigration. Anyone reading this work cannot help but notice, when they compare it to our contemporary immigration debate, that the more things change the more they stay the same. Kennedy notes the various waves of immigrants - Irish, German, Scandinavian, etc. - and there contributions to American society and culture, as well as the various nativist push ...more
Layne
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
There are so many reasons to love this man and this is just one of them. He wrote this and published it as a senator in 1958, and just put that into perspective - the 1950s, when racism, prejudice and xenophobia were all commonplace, segregation had only just been struck down and criminalised and tensions were high due to the situations in Vietnam and East Germany (and, still, Japan). So, in somewhat of a retaliation, he wrote a book denouncing harsh immigration policies, reaffirming the view th ...more
The Book : An Online Review at The New Republic
THEY ARE LESS WELL KNOWN than their counterparts in the world of foreign affairs, the mandarin caste of experts who cycle in and out of government and provide the brainpower behind American foreign policy. But immigration policy also has its mandarins, and Susan Martin is one of the most distinguished. Research Director for the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy (it provided the blueprint for the landmark Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986), later executive director of t ...more
Andrés
Oct 12, 2007 rated it liked it
This is more inspirational than historical, it reads more like a pamphlet than a book. His brush strokes are broad and some of his details are inaccurate, but his thrust is undoubtedly right. These pages outline the Immigration Act of 1965, a law inspired by these, JFK's, thoughts on the subject, and so I agree to the depths of my heart in this book's proposition of human equality, the principle which allows me to be.
LA
Apr 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Daniels’ thesis, romanticizing journey of immigrants. Refers to The Uprooted but doesn’t support the Handlin stereotype. Breaks down immigration by waves, then by nationality. All European and Russian immigration, but some Chinese, Japanese, but none on Latin America or Africa.

Chapter on immigration policy including Chinese exclusion law 1882. good photo section.
Elizabeth
My copy is actually the 1964 edition that was in a box of books my father was clearing off his bookshelf. The content is actually pretty timely with the current debates in Congress about immigration policy.
Sandra
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read. Everyone should read this little, yet full of history, book. Five decades later this book is a current reading to remind this nation about its immigrant past and present; as well about the immigrants contributions that had make of the US the nation we know today.
Michael Duane  Robbins
Kennedy debunks all the arguments denigrating the immigrant 'problem' in this country by demonstrating. in a coherent and comprehensive manner, that we are all immigrants. His reasoning should persuade one and all against the fallacy of immigrant prejudice.
Michael
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Quick book to read that runs a call-to-attention. Granted, this book is dated but I think the narrative is relevant considering recent immigration debates about the US-Mexico border.
Denton Peter McCabe
This is a terrific essay on immigration from JFK. A classic.
Miranda
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent, and as relevant today as it was when it was written (if not more). Highly recommended reading, although I suspect it'll mainly preach to the converted.
Landismom
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Really powerful insight into JFK's character. His commitment to immigrant rights seems to have been ahead of his time.
Sara-Ellen
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I think President Kennedy intended this as a teaching vehicle and it is a lesson that all Americans need to learn!
Abel Caine fiji
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is my 2nd book by JFK - an inspirational yet flawed leader who was a great writer on stiring topics
R.A.Y
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
baca terjemahannya sih, yang berjudul Amerika Serikat Bangsa Para Imigran. penyampaiannya enak banget, mudah dipahami. jarang-jarang nonfiksi terjemahan bersahabat seperti ini, jadi saya suka.
Audrey
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kennedy quotes Tocqueville of "Democracy in America" at the beginning of this book. "The happy and the powerful do not go into exile, and there are no surer guarantees of equality among men than poverty and misfortune." Kennedy was attempting to push through immigration reform at the time of his assassination. The book, which is more of an essay, was published posthumously with a foreword by Bobby Kennedy. This is a quick look at the immigrants who populated this country, the reasons they immigr ...more
Zach
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While some parts of A Nation of Immigrants are less relevant than they were at publication thanks to immigration reforms starting in the mid-1960s, the book taken as a whole is as powerful and relevant now as it was in 1958.

Chronicling America's immigrant history, Kennedy provides a litany of contributions made by successive waves of newcomers, showing how those arrivals enriched the fabric of American society. He recounts the recurring (and now familiar) fears that immigrants won't be able to a
...more
Evelyn
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This is a succinct history of the nature and importance of immigration to the United States by the 35th President whose life was tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet in 1963. It should be required reading for today’s politicians and those opposed to the immigration of people whose color, customs, country of origin and/or religion differs from their own. It is also a worthy addition to the reading lists of students of American history. The book clearly and concisely reminds people of the ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK, was the thirty-fifth President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

After Kennedy's military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 during World War II in the South Pacific, his aspirations tu
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“Immigration policy should be
generous; it should be fair; it should
be flexible. With such a policy we
can turn to the world, and to our own
past, with clean hands and a clear
conscience.”
30 likes
“The interaction of disparate cultures, the vehemence of the ideals that led the immigrants here, the opportunity offered by a new life, all gave America a flavor and a character that make it as unmistakable and as remarkable to people today as it was to Alexis de Tocqueville in the early part of the nineteenth century.” 20 likes
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