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Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People Paperback – May 15 2001

4.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (May 15 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374527369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374527365
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,852,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

While growing up in New Jersey in the 1950s and '60s, Zia was provided with plenty of American history by her teachers, while her father inundated her with stories of China's past. Yet she was left wondering about people like herself, Asian Americans, who seemed to be "MIH--Missing in History." In this ambitious and richly detailed account of the formation of the Asian-American community--which extends from the first major wave of immigration to Gold Mountain" (as the Chinese dubbed America during the gold rush) to the recent influx of Southeast Asians, who since 1975 have nearly doubled the Asian-American population--Zia fills those absences, while examining the complex origins of the events she relates. The result is a vivid personal and national history, in which Zia guides us through a range of recent flash points that have galvanized the Asian-American community. Among them are the brutal, racially motivated murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit in 1982; the devastating riots in Los Angeles in 1992, where almost half of the $1 billion in damages to the city were sustained by Korean-American shop owners; and the embattled South Asian New York City cab drivers who, in May of 1998, banded together with the New York Taxi Workers alliance and pulled off a citywide strike. The recent boom in the Asian-American population (from half a million in the 1950s to 7.3 million in 1990), coupled with Zia's fresh perspective, makes it unlikely that their stories will go missing again. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Asian Americans have only recently emerged as a cohesive, self-identified racial group. Now, award-winning Asian American journalist Zia traces the changing politics and cultures of this significant but disjointed group of people by examining the incidents that helped galvanize them. Drawing on both family stories and public events (everything from the Vincent Chin affair to the boycott of Korean American--owned stores in Brooklyn) Zia surveys the history of Asian Americans, the rapid development of their new political force, and the unique issues they face. This well-written book is an important addition to the growing field of Asian American studies. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
-Mee-Len Hom, Hunter Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I remember as a young child, other kids would ask me, "Where are you from?" Even though I was a native U.S. citizen, I would answer "Korea" without even thinking about it. Their response would be a blank stare and a "Where?" They all knew China, and even Japan, but rarely Korea. I grew up thinking that I was from a place that no one knew existed. Now when people ask me, "Where are you from?" I answer "Los Angeles," and I receive the response, "You know what I mean. Really, where are you from?" This question has plagued me throughout my life. People assume I cannot simply be an American - I must be a foreigner.
What Helen Zia has done is taken this universal experience among Asian Americans and transformed it into a quest to learn what it means to be Asian and American. She examines pivotal points in Asian American history and acknowledges racism, but also examines what Asian Americans must do as a whole to become seen as "American" and not as a "gook" or a "chink." As a college student who's done a little bit of research on Asian Americans, it enlightened me on my responsibilites to make my voice heard and also educated me on the history of the Asian American Civil Rights Movement - something that didn't even exist 60 years ago.
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By A Customer on Dec 13 2001
Format: Paperback
Zia's accout of Asian American history is highly readable, panning a long stretch of time and focusing in on a series of major events (that are detailed in other reviews, which I will not reiterate). And, as many of the reviewers already stated, she provides more than an introduction to these events. Unfortunately, Zia's journalistic background---which I see as the simplification of complex issues and the lack of historical depth---surfaces often when she attempts to provide historical context. That is, she often paints in broad strokes (in an effort to state her case, no doubt), especially when dealing with other ethnic groups. A case in point is her discussion of 1921 and 1924 immigration quotas acts. Instead of simply dealing with the implication of these acts on immigration from Asia, she decides to insert statistics on immigration from Italy at the time, leaving the reader to conclude that immigration from Italy was not restricted. Why she does this, one can only wonder. In fact, the quotas acts did reduce immigration from Italy to a mere trickle, and the language that was used to reduce this immigration was most certainly racialized, since Italians were seen as a dark skinned, uneducated, crime-prone people. Zia would have been better advised to leave reference to Italians out, especially if she is not willing to do them historical justice. After all, they too are an ethnic minority with their own distinct history in America Aside from this slip (visable in other places in her text), Zia still writes a very informed and accessible text.
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Format: Paperback
Asian American Dreams is really a touching book. It is touching not because it is a fiction with many moving plots and the hero or heroin possesses moving characteristics --- strictly speaking it is not a fiction --- but because it provides a description, a statement, a confession from the perspective of an Asian American woman writer who exposes so unelaborated, so frankly, so honestly, her innocent feelings about her being as an Asian American.
Helen Zia, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, born in New Jersey, grew up in the fifties when there were only 150, 000 Chinese Americans in the entire country. As an award-winning journalist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, Zia has covered Asian American communities and social and political movements for more than twenty years.
Different from the other minorities groups, she assumed what Chinese Americans wished to be was not how to preserve their cultural identity, instead, they tried to explore by what they could be made a fully American. However, she was obviously dissatisfied with she was forever conceived as an “alien” even she was born in New Jersey.
“There is a drill,” she wrote, “ that nearly all Asians in America have experienced more times than they can count. Total strangers will interrupt with the absurdly existential question ‘What are you?’ Or the equally common inquiry ‘Where are your from?’ Their queries are generally well intentioned, made in the same detached manner that you might use to inquire about a pooch’s breed.”
She clearly pointed out a situation that Asian Americans, particularly Chinese Americans, had been facing in the American setting.
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Format: Hardcover
Helen Zia provides a good overview of the Asian Pacific American (APA) experience in the United States and highlights specific examples where APAs faced gross discrimination and unfair treatment at the hands of an intolerant (and clueless) society which continues today in more overt ways.
While she provides some personal insights using her own and unique experiences, Ms. Zia doesn't reveal anything new in her book. I would recommend this book for those readers who are not familiar with, for example, the boycott of Korean grocers or the murder of Vincent Chin. But again, it would just be for background information.
I have to admit, though, that this book inspired me to ask myself several questions. For example, it's okay to have an Irish Day or Puerto Rican Day parade. (Ah, yes, it's a way of reconnecting with our roots.) But when APAs want to have an APA parade, we are accused of refusing to assimilate with American culture. I can't wait for the day when every American can celebrate their cultural heritage without being accused of stealing nuclear secrets or giving illegal campaign contributions.
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