The Chinese in America, by Iris Chang
At this point in my life, I think that The Chinese In America was the most important book that I could read. I picked it up almost at random, because I thought I read a review of it a couple of months or years ago. The book itself is written like a story, from the mid-19th Century, when the first Chinese immigrants ventured to California in search of Gold Mountain, pushing into present day, with the arrival of immigrants from HK and Taiwan, and the rise of the PRC.
The last chapter is the most powerful one, where the author exposes the same conclusions or ways to "respond" to the phenomenon of looking foreign in a land that you call your own. They are the principles of individual choice, and that of responsibility-taking. The latter, I consider that I've tried to go into that direction, wrt my involvement with the Chinese Family Service at various levels this past few months. As for the former, it has been a seemingly right answer to attitudes that displease me in the society I live in.
The book might have its problems, critics, but I say that it is good enough for me, as I wouldn't remember all the facts, and would only remember that the Chinese, or any other visible minority, was not treated fairly by those in power at certain moments in history. The exclusion act, in the US, but also in Canada, is a dark moment of our history that I did not know about until last year, when former PM Paul Martin apologized for the head tax during the 2006 winter election.
I've rarely finished voluminous non-novel books (I read most of it when I was still working full-time, too), and The Chinese In America is an easy read if you consider the topic to be of some importance.
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