25 Events That Shaped Asian American History: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic

Greenwood. Mar. 2019. 471p. ed. by ed. by Lan Dong. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781440860881. $94; ebk. ISBN 9781440860898. REF
Dong (English, Univ. of Illinois Springfield; Asian American Culture) and 27 academic contributors organize this look at Asian American history not by ethnic group. Instead, they focus on five topics, grouped chronologically from 1848 to 2018. Within each section, five extended essays, with chronologies and scholarly citations, explore pivotal events and provide contextual depth and connections to the present. Some of the events analyzed are positive, such as the creation of the first Asian studies program, the building of the first Sikh gurdwara, and Lau v. Nichols, which established students’ right to language support. Many, such as the Vietnam War, Vincent Chin’s murder, the 1992 L.A. riots, or post-9/11 Islamophobia, are not. Besides the more familiar events, others, including the Luce-Celler Act of 1946, deserve wider attention. The World War II death toll in the Philippines—the highest on then-U.S. soil in any war—is not mentioned, but the volume doesn’t claim to be comprehensive. Each chapter offers an instructive view of Asians’ experience (often of discrimination) in that period, though tracing one thread (e.g., Chinese exclusion) across time is more difficult. The index, however, is a reliable work-around.
VERDICT College and advanced high school students, as well as general readers interested in Asian American history, will find these thorough writings a rich source of research ideas.

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