One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965
The idea of the United States as a nation of immigrants is at the core of the American narrative. But in 1924, Congress instituted a system of ethnic quotas so stringent that it choked off large-scale immigration for decades, sharply curtailing arrivals from southern and eastern Europe and outright banning those from nearly all of Asia.
In a riveting narrative filled with a fascinating cast of characters, from the indefatigable congressman Emanuel Celler and senator Herbert Lehman to the bull-headed Nevada senator Pat McCarran, Jia Lynn Yang recounts how lawmakers, activists, and presidents from Truman through LBJ worked relentlessly to abolish the 1924 law. Through a world war, a refugee crisis after the Holocaust, and a McCarthyist fever, a coalition of lawmakers and activists descended from Jewish, Irish, and Japanese immigrants fought to establish a new principle of equality in the American immigration system. Their crowning achievement, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, proved to be one of the most transformative laws in the country's history, opening the door to nonwhite migration at levels never seen before--and changing America in ways that those who debated it could hardly have imagined.
Framed movingly by her own family's story of immigration to America, Yang's One Mighty and Irresistible Tide is a deeply researched and illuminating work of history, one that shows how Americans have strived and struggled to live up to the ideal of a home for the huddled masses, as promised in Emma Lazarus's famous poem.
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Yang's comprehensive and easy-to-follow record of a crucial period in the evolution of U.S. immigration policy sheds light on the political, cultural, and historical considerations behind this contentious issue. Readers seeking insights into contemporary proposals to reform the system will find plenty in this lucid account.
Excellent....Critical in understanding today's immigration issues.--Kirkus (starred review)
Anyone who doesn't understand that we are a nation of immigrants should be given a copy of Yang's powerful and cogent look at immigrant strictures put in place in 1924 that were revoked by the 1965 Immigration and Equality Act.--Bethanne Patrick
Yang's compelling history could not be more timely.... The combination of meticulous research and captivating writing creates a beautiful surprise; a dark history that gleams under the spotlight of unvarnished truthtelling. Expect a lot of reader requests and award attention for this significant title.--Booklist (starred review)