Cover image for Asian American dreams : the emergence of an American people
Asian American dreams : the emergence of an American people
Zia, Helen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 356 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E184.O6 .Z53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This groundbreaking book traces the transformation of Asian Americans from a few small, disconnected, and largely invisible ethnic groups into a self-identified racial group that is influencing every aspect of American society. It explores the events that shocked Asian Americans into motion and shaped a new consciousness.

Helen Zia, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, writes as a personal witness to the dramatic changes involving Asian Americans.

Author Notes

Helen Zia, a graduate of Princeton University's first co-educational class, is an award-winning journalist who has covered Asian American communities & political movements for twenty years. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Frustrated by the relative invisibility of Asians in U.S. history and culture, Zia, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, details the diverse cultural backgrounds of Asians in America. She notes the historical cycles that have seen Americans alternately embracing and repudiating Asians. Zia recounts the immigration of her own parents, their marriage, and their attempts to make themselves into Americans, efforts that were complicated when Zia came of age during the social and racial upheaval of the 1960s. She also recounts the dubious U.S. history of race relations regarding Asians, regrouping favored and disfavored nationalities, temporarily reclassifying favored groups as whites. She examines the internment of the Japanese during World War II, exploitation of Chinese workers in the West and the South, and the racial animus aimed at Vietnamese relocated in the U.S. after the war. Zia sees the convergence of growth in Asian populations, the diversity of that population, and an incipient Asian American movement that may initiate increased political power and social influence in the U.S. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
I Beyond Our Shadows
1 From Nothing, a Consciousnessp. 3
2 Surrogate Slaves to American Dreamersp. 21
II The Awakening
3 Detroit Blues: "Because of You Motherfuckers"p. 55
4 To Market, to Market, New York Stylep. 82
5 Gangsters, Gooks, Geishas, and Geeksp. 109
III Up From Innocence
6 Welcome to Washingtonp. 139
7 Lost and Found in L.A.p. 166
8 For Richer, for Poorerp. 195
IV Moving the Mountain
9 Out on the Front Linesp. 227
10 Reinventing Our Culturep. 252
11 The Last Bastionp. 281
12 Living Our Dreamsp. 311
Bibliographyp. 321
Acknowledgmentsp. 329
Indexp. 333