The Good Immigrants

Politics and Society in Modern America

Book 114
Princeton University Press
Free sample

Conventionally, US immigration history has been understood through the lens of restriction and those who have been barred from getting in. In contrast, The Good Immigrants considers immigration from the perspective of Chinese elites—intellectuals, businessmen, and students—who gained entrance because of immigration exemptions. Exploring a century of Chinese migrations, Madeline Hsu looks at how the model minority characteristics of many Asian Americans resulted from US policies that screened for those with the highest credentials in the most employable fields, enhancing American economic competitiveness.

The earliest US immigration restrictions targeted Chinese people but exempted students as well as individuals who might extend America's influence in China. Western-educated Chinese such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek became symbols of the US impact on China, even as they patriotically advocated for China's modernization. World War II and the rise of communism transformed Chinese students abroad into refugees, and the Cold War magnified the importance of their talent and training. As a result, Congress legislated piecemeal legal measures to enable Chinese of good standing with professional skills to become citizens. Pressures mounted to reform American discriminatory immigration laws, culminating with the 1965 Immigration Act.

Filled with narratives featuring such renowned Chinese immigrants as I. M. Pei, The Good Immigrants examines the shifts in immigration laws and perceptions of cultural traits that enabled Asians to remain in the United States as exemplary, productive Americans.

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About the author

Madeline Y. Hsu is associate professor of history and past director of the Center for Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her books include Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home and the coedited anthology Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 27, 2015
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781400866373
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / United States / General
Law / General
Political Science / Public Policy / Cultural Policy
Social Science / Black Studies (Global)
Social Science / Emigration & Immigration
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the early 1960s, American conservatives seemed to have fallen on hard times. McCarthyism was on the run, and movements on the political left were grabbing headlines. The media lampooned John Birchers's accusations that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist puppet. Mainstream America snickered at warnings by California Congressman James B. Utt that "barefooted Africans" were training in Georgia to help the United Nations take over the country. Yet, in Utt's home district of Orange County, thousands of middle-class suburbanites proceeded to organize a powerful conservative movement that would land Ronald Reagan in the White House and redefine the spectrum of acceptable politics into the next century.

Suburban Warriors introduces us to these people: women hosting coffee klatches for Barry Goldwater in their tract houses; members of anticommunist reading groups organizing against sex education; pro-life Democrats gradually drawn into conservative circles; and new arrivals finding work in defense companies and a sense of community in Orange County's mushrooming evangelical churches. We learn what motivated them and how they interpreted their political activity. Lisa McGirr shows that their movement was not one of marginal people suffering from status anxiety, but rather one formed by successful entrepreneurial types with modern lifestyles and bright futures. She describes how these suburban pioneers created new political and social philosophies anchored in a fusion of Christian fundamentalism, xenophobic nationalism, and western libertarianism.


While introducing these rank-and-file activists, McGirr chronicles Orange County's rise from "nut country" to political vanguard. Through this history, she traces the evolution of the New Right from a virulent anticommunist, anti-establishment fringe to a broad national movement nourished by evangelical Protestantism. Her original contribution to the social history of politics broadens—and often upsets—our understanding of the deep and tenacious roots of popular conservatism in America.

The Rise of a Prairie Statesman is the first volume of a major biography of the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate who became America's most eloquent and prescient critic of the Vietnam War. In this masterful book, Thomas Knock traces George McGovern's life from his rustic boyhood in a South Dakota prairie town during the Depression to his rise to the pinnacle of politics at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago where police and antiwar demonstrators clashed in the city's streets.

Drawing extensively on McGovern's private papers and scores of in-depth interviews, Knock shows how McGovern's importance to the Democratic Party and American liberalism extended far beyond his 1972 presidential campaign, and how the story of postwar American politics is about more than just the rise of the New Right. He vividly describes McGovern's harrowing missions over Nazi Germany as a B-24 bomber pilot, and reveals how McGovern's combat experiences motivated him to earn a PhD in history and stoked his ambition to run for Congress. When President Kennedy appointed him director of Food for Peace in 1961, McGovern engineered a vast expansion of the program's school lunch initiative that soon was feeding tens of millions of hungry children around the world. As a senator, he delivered his courageous and unrelenting critique of Lyndon Johnson's escalation in Vietnam—a conflict that brought their party to disaster and caused a new generation of Democrats to turn to McGovern for leadership.

A stunning achievement, The Rise of a Prairie Statesman ends in 1968, in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, when the "Draft McGovern" movement thrust him into the national spotlight and the contest for the presidential nomination, culminating in his triumphal reelection to the Senate and his emergence as one of the most likely prospects for the Democratic nomination in 1972..

The politics and policies that led to America's expansion of the penal system and reduction of welfare programs

In 1970s America, politicians began "getting tough" on drugs, crime, and welfare. These campaigns helped expand the nation's penal system, discredit welfare programs, and cast blame for the era's social upheaval on racialized deviants that the state was not accountable to serve or represent. Getting Tough sheds light on how this unprecedented growth of the penal system and the evisceration of the nation's welfare programs developed hand in hand. Julilly Kohler-Hausmann shows that these historical events were animated by struggles over how to interpret and respond to the inequality and disorder that crested during this period.

When social movements and the slowing economy destabilized the U.S. welfare state, politicians reacted by repudiating the commitment to individual rehabilitation that had governed penal and social programs for decades. In its place, they championed strategies of punishment, surveillance, and containment. The architects of these tough strategies insisted they were necessary, given the failure of liberal social programs and the supposed pathological culture within poor African American and Latino communities. Kohler-Hausmann rejects this explanation and describes how the spectacle of enacting punitive policies convinced many Americans that social investment was counterproductive and the "underclass" could be managed only through coercion and force.

Getting Tough illuminates this narrative through three legislative cases: New York's adoption of the 1973 Rockefeller drug laws, Illinois's and California's attempts to reform welfare through criminalization and work mandates, and California's passing of a 1976 sentencing law that abandoned rehabilitation as an aim of incarceration. Spanning diverse institutions and weaving together the perspectives of opponents, supporters, and targets of punitive policies, Getting Tough offers new interpretations of dramatic transformations in the modern American state.

How Hawai'i became an emblem of multiculturalism during its journey to statehood in the mid-twentieth century

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Once a racially problematic overseas colony, by the 1960s, Hawai'i had come to symbolize John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier. This was a more inclusive idea of who counted as American at home and what areas of the world were considered to be within the U.S. sphere of influence. Statehood advocates argued that Hawai'i and its majority Asian population could serve as a bridge to Cold War Asia—and as a global showcase of American democracy and racial harmony. In the aftermath of statehood, business leaders and policymakers worked to institutionalize and sell this ideal by capitalizing on Hawai'i’s diversity. Asian Americans in Hawai'i never lost a perceived connection to Asia. Instead, their ethnic difference became a marketable resource to help other Americans navigate a decolonizing world.

As excitement over statehood dimmed, the utopian vision of Hawai'i fell apart, revealing how racial inequality and U.S. imperialism continued to shape the fiftieth state—and igniting a backlash against the islands’ white-dominated institutions.

The American West erupted in anti-Chinese violence in 1885. Following the massacre of Chinese miners in Wyoming Territory, communities throughout California and the Pacific Northwest harassed, assaulted, and expelled thousands of Chinese immigrants. Beth Lew-Williams shows how American immigration policies incited this violence and how the violence, in turn, provoked new exclusionary policies. Ultimately, Lew-Williams argues, Chinese expulsion and exclusion produced the concept of the “alien” in modern America. The Chinese Must Go begins in the 1850s, before federal border control established strict divisions between citizens and aliens. Across decades of felling trees and laying tracks in the American West, Chinese workers faced escalating racial conflict and unrest. In response, Congress passed the Chinese Restriction Act of 1882 and made its first attempt to bar immigrants based on race and class. When this unprecedented experiment in federal border control failed to slow Chinese migration, vigilantes attempted to take the matter into their own hands. Fearing the spread of mob violence, U.S. policymakers redoubled their efforts to keep the Chinese out, overhauling U.S. immigration law and transforming diplomatic relations with China. By locating the origins of the modern American alien in this violent era, Lew-Williams recasts the significance of Chinese exclusion in U.S. history. As The Chinese Must Go makes clear, anti-Chinese law and violence continues to have consequences for today’s immigrants. The present resurgence of xenophobia builds mightily upon past fears of the “heathen Chinaman.”
In the early 1960s, American conservatives seemed to have fallen on hard times. McCarthyism was on the run, and movements on the political left were grabbing headlines. The media lampooned John Birchers's accusations that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist puppet. Mainstream America snickered at warnings by California Congressman James B. Utt that "barefooted Africans" were training in Georgia to help the United Nations take over the country. Yet, in Utt's home district of Orange County, thousands of middle-class suburbanites proceeded to organize a powerful conservative movement that would land Ronald Reagan in the White House and redefine the spectrum of acceptable politics into the next century.

Suburban Warriors introduces us to these people: women hosting coffee klatches for Barry Goldwater in their tract houses; members of anticommunist reading groups organizing against sex education; pro-life Democrats gradually drawn into conservative circles; and new arrivals finding work in defense companies and a sense of community in Orange County's mushrooming evangelical churches. We learn what motivated them and how they interpreted their political activity. Lisa McGirr shows that their movement was not one of marginal people suffering from status anxiety, but rather one formed by successful entrepreneurial types with modern lifestyles and bright futures. She describes how these suburban pioneers created new political and social philosophies anchored in a fusion of Christian fundamentalism, xenophobic nationalism, and western libertarianism.


While introducing these rank-and-file activists, McGirr chronicles Orange County's rise from "nut country" to political vanguard. Through this history, she traces the evolution of the New Right from a virulent anticommunist, anti-establishment fringe to a broad national movement nourished by evangelical Protestantism. Her original contribution to the social history of politics broadens—and often upsets—our understanding of the deep and tenacious roots of popular conservatism in America.

A 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center reported that Asian Americans are the best-educated, highest-income, and best-assimilated racial group in the United States. Before reaching this level of economic success and social assimilation, however, Asian immigrants' path was full of difficult, even demeaning, moments. This book provides a sweeping and nuanced history of Asian Americans, revealing how and why the perception of Asian immigrants changed over time. Asian migrants, in large part Chinese, arrived in significant numbers on the West Coast during the 1850s and 1860s to work in gold mining and on the construction of the transcontinental Railroad. Unlike their contemporary European counterparts, Asians, often stigmatized as "coolies," challenged American ideals of equality with the problem of whether all racial groups could be integrated into America's democracy. The fear of the "Yellow Peril" soon spurred an array of legislative and institutional efforts to segregate them through immigration laws, restrictions on citizenship, and limits on employment, property ownership, access to public services, and civil rights. Prejudices against Asian Americans reached a peak during World War II, when Japanese Americans were interned en masse. It was only with changes in the immigration laws and the social and political activism of the 1960s and 1970s that Asian Americans gained ground and acceptance, albeit in the still stereotyped category of "model minorities." Madeline Y. Hsu weaves a fascinating historical narrative of this "American Dream." She shows how Asian American success, often attributed to innate cultural values, is more a result of the immigration laws, which have largely pre-selected immigrants of high economic and social potential. Asian Americans have, in turn, been used by politicians to bludgeon newer (and more populous) immigrant groups for their purported lack of achievement. Hsu deftly reveals how public policy, which can restrict and also selectively promote certain immigrant populations, is a key reason why some immigrant groups appear to be more naturally successful and why the identity of those groups evolves differently from others.
An eye-opening account of life inside North Korea—a closed world of increasing global importance—hailed as a “tour de force of meticulous reporting” (The New York Review of Books)
 
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
 
In this landmark addition to the literature of totalitarianism, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il (the father of Kim Jong-un), and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population.
 
Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. She takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.

Praise for Nothing to Envy

“Provocative . . . offers extensive evidence of the author’s deep knowledge of this country while keeping its sights firmly on individual stories and human details.”—The New York Times

“Deeply moving . . . The personal stories are related with novelistic detail.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A tour de force of meticulous reporting.”—The New York Review of Books

“Excellent . . . humanizes a downtrodden, long-suffering people whose individual lives, hopes and dreams are so little known abroad.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The narrow boundaries of our knowledge have expanded radically with the publication of Nothing to Envy. . . . Elegantly structured and written, [it] is a groundbreaking work of literary nonfiction.”—John Delury, Slate

“At times a page-turner, at others an intimate study in totalitarian psychology.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[E]ntertaining, bracingly honest and, yes, thought-provoking.”—The New York Times Book Review

At once provocative and laugh-out-loud funny, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ignited a global parenting debate with its story of one mother’s journey in strict parenting.  Amy Chua argues that Western parenting tries to respect and nurture children’s individuality, while Chinese parents typically believe that arming children with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence prepares them best for the future.   Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the Chinese way – and the remarkable, sometimes heartbreaking  results her choice inspires.  Achingly honest and profoundly challenging, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is one of the most talked-about books of our times.

“Few have the guts to parent in public. Amy [Chua]'s memoir is brutally honest, and her willingness to share her struggles is a gift. Whether or not you agree with her priorities and approach, she should be applauded for raising these issues with a thoughtful, humorous and authentic voice.” —Time Magazine

“[A] riveting read… Chua's story is far more complicated and interesting than what you've heard to date -- and well worth picking up… I guarantee that if you read the book, there'll undoubtedly be places where you'll cringe in recognition, and others where you'll tear up in empathy.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother hit the parenting hot button, but also a lot more, including people's complicated feelings about ambition, intellectualism, high culture, the Ivy League, strong women and America's standing in a world where China is ascendant. Chua's conviction that hard work leads to inner confidence is a resonant one.”—Chicago Tribune

“Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents… Readers of all stripes will respond to [Battle Hymn of the] Tiger Mother.”—The Washington Post
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