Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2022. 496p. ISBN 9780358508090. $28.99. SOC SCI
The history of Asians in America is a complicated matter. As journalist Yang, blogger Phil Yu, and producer Philip Wang point out in their new book, it’s possible to trace this history back to at least the 1760s, but the umbrella term of Asian American didn’t exist until 1968. Instead of focusing on the long history of exploitation and exclusion, Yang, Yu, and Wang turn to look at the last three decades with a focus on the advances that have been made in entertainment and politics. The result is a remarkable collection of stories from Asian Americans: a mix of essays, interviews, comics, playlists, and more. The book focuses on major moments in pop culture—including Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl and I’m the One That I Want, Disney’s 1998 Mulan, Boba tea, Better Luck Tomorrow, and Fresh Off the Boat. To provide additional nuance, the authors also invite contributors to discuss the problems of gathering so many cultures under one name, be it “Asian American” or “AAPI.”
VERDICT This rich, balanced collection provides a dazzling history of late 20th and early 21st century pop culture in the United States, and the lasting impact of Asian Americans. With a visually stunning layout, the book is an essential read.
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