SOCIAL SCIENCES

America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States

Basic. Nov. 2019. 432p. notes. index. ISBN 9781541672604. $32; ebk. ISBN 9781541672598. SOC SCI
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Part of the American mythos is that America is a nation of immigrants. While there is truth in that, Lee (history, Univ of Minnesota; The Making of Asian America: A History) exposes another truth: America is also a nation of xenophobes. This book examines different episodes of xenophobia in American history, from Benjamin Franklin’s writings against German immigrants in the mid-18th century and the Know Nothings’ campaigns against Irish immigrants and the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 19th century to the 1924 Immigration Act and Japanese-American internment of the early 20th century, discrimination against Mexican and Muslim immigrants in recent decades, and more. Immigration restriction is a central hallmark of President Trump’s administration. Lee reveals that the rhetoric Trump and his supporters employ when speaking about immigration and immigrants—fears about bringing crime, taking away jobs, failing to assimilate—has long been part of American political discourse from Colonial times to the present.
VERDICT This thoroughly researched, informative, and lucid work is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, and how it influences the current political environment.

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