The Chinese in America

The Chinese in America

A Narrative History

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780142004173
  • 544 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


In an epic story that spans 150 years and continues to the present day, Iris Chang tells of a people’s search for a better life—the determination of the Chinese to forge an identity and a destiny in a strange land and, often against great obstacles, to find success. She chronicles the many accomplishments in America of Chinese immigrants and their descendents: building the infrastructure of their adopted country, fighting racist and exclusionary laws, walking the racial tightrope between black and white, contributing to major scientific and technological advances, expanding the literary canon, and influencing the way we think about racial and ethnic groups. Interweaving political, social, economic, and cultural history, as well as the stories of individuals, Chang offers a bracing view not only of what it means to be Chinese American, but also of what it is to be American.
The Chinese in America

The Chinese in America

Written by: Iris Chang


“Engrossing… The Chinese Americans’ struggle for success, its costs and tenuousness, are major themes in Chang’s highly readable, panoramic history…. Absorbing, passionate.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“A thought-provoking overview of how the Chinese have been an integral part of American history… An exemplary achievement.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Richly detailed… I know of no better introduction to this multilayered and emotionally charged story.” —Jonathan D. Spence

“Comprehensive, beautifully written, filled with deft and passionate analysis—the definitive book on Chinese American history for a new generation. Iris Chang places today’s Chinese Americans brilliantly into 150 years of U.S. history.” —David Henry Hwang, Tony Award–winning playwright

Table of Contents

Introduction   vii
  1. The Old Country: Imperial China in the Nineteenth Century   1

  2. America: A New Hope   20

  3. “Never Fear, and You Will Be Lucky”: Journey and Arrival in San Francisco   29

  4. Gold Rushers on Gold Mountain   38

  5. Building the Transcontinental Railroad   53

  6. Life on the Western Frontier   65

  7. Spreading Across America   93

  8. Rumblings of Hatred   116

  9. The Chinese Exclusion Act   130

  10. Work and Survival in the Twentieth Century   157

  11. A New Generation is Born   173

  12. Chinese America During the Great Depression   199

  13. “The Most Important Historical Event of Our Times”: World War II   215

  14. “A Mass Inquisition”: The Cold War, the Chinese Civil War, and McCarthyism   236

  15. New Arrivals, New Lives: The Chaotic 1960s   261

  16. The Taiwanese Americans   283

  17. The Bamboo Curtain Rises: Mainlanders and Model Minorities   312

  18. Decade of Fear: The 1990s   334

  19. High Tech vs. Low Tech   348

  20. A Uncertain Future   389  

Notes   405
Acknowledgements   477
Index   481