Ethnic America: A History [Paperback]

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Item Description...
Traces the story of nine different ethnic groups in American society, discussing their various reactions to the American experience, cultural and historical backgrounds, patterns of difficulty, and modes of success

Publishers Description
"This classic work by the distinguished economist traces the history of nine American ethnic groups—the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Chinese, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans."

Item Specifications...

Pages   353
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.04" Width: 5.06" Height: 0.86"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 20, 1983
Publisher   Basic Books
ISBN  0465020755  
EAN  9780465020751  

Availability  0 units.

More About Thomas Sowell, Nancy L. Heath, Juvenile Collection (Library of Congress), Ellen Nuss, Marta Pitt, Pat McEown, Glenn Barr & Kevin Nowlan
Thomas  Sowell Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, Thomas Sowell left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Thomas Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics. Thomas Sowell graduated from Harvard University, received his Master's in Economics from Columbia University and his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Chicago. In the early '60s, Sowell held jobs as an economist with the Department of Labor and AT&T. But his real interest was in teaching. Sowell began the first of many professorships at Cornell University, and his other teaching assignments include Rutgers University, Amherst College, Brandeis University and the UCLA, where he taught in the early '70s and '80s. Thomas Sowell has a large volume of writing including a dozen books, and numerous articles and essays; covering a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to civil rights and judicial activism, even choosing the right college. Much of his ground-breaking writing will outlive the great majority of scholarship done today! Though Thomas Sowell had been a regular contributor to newspapers in the late '70s and early '80s, he did not begin his career as a newspaper columnist until 1984. In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by The American Enterprise Institute.
"George F. Will's writing," says Sowell, "...proved to him that someone could say something of substance in so short a space (750 words). And besides, writing for the general public enables him to address the heart of issues without the smoke and mirrors that so often accompany academic writing."
Sowell's very timely book,The Housing Boom and Bust: Revised Edition attempts to determine whether what is being done to deal with America's 2009-2010 housing boom and bust problem is more likely to make things better or worse. His examination of racism and Liberalism in Black Rednecks and White Liberals is a classic from a daring perspective rarely heard in the Black Community. Nowhere else will you read about the co-dependent relationship between " rednecks.. and white liberals.." Currently Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute in Stanford, Calif.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Ethnic in America  Jul 1, 2009
Thomas Sowell is well known for his insightful and thought provoking articles and books. He was never the one to shy away from a difficult subject, and that is certainly the case with as polarizing topic as race and ethnicity. In American political discourse, race and ethnicity are given either too much attention or not enough, and the motivations for the attention given are oftentimes misguided. Between the polar extremes of nativists and cultural relativists, there is a considerable room for exploration that has not been given proper attention. Behind the myth of America as a melting pot, there lays the reality of many ethnic groups arriving here and staying loyal to their ethnic and cultural identities for many generations at a time. For instance, the rate of intermarriage for the first few generations of immigrants is pretty low.

Thomas Sowell is at his best when relating some peculiar historical fact about a particular ethnic group that more often than not hasn't made its way into the history books. He tries to be honest and fair to everyone, but he is not kowtowing to the PC rhetoric. The particular stories of different ethnic groups are enlightening and revealing of all sorts of different circumstances under which people have immigrated into the United States. However, it is not always clear when these stories are completely based on the historical evidence, and when they are just second or third hand accounts. Sometimes there is danger of painting the ethnic picture with too wide of a strokes.

The only big problem that I have with this book is that it tries to convey the impression that the only major differences between ethnic groups in America are due to Culture. This is one of the themes that Sowell returns to a lot in his writings. The positive effect of that outlook is the notion that with a change of cultural outlook all ethnic groups are equally likely to better themselves and succeed in America. However, this neglects the growing amount of evidence that points to the fact that our biological differences do play a significant role in how we behave. Neglecting that lesson can have very undesirable consequences.

sex, drugs and rock n roll  Feb 12, 2009
is what it should be called, bc that's what is ethnic to me. Maybe that's racist, but that's the books point. We're all racist might as well have a good time, and get freaky with it. Look when we landed on Plymouth rock it wasn't the Indians that were our problems. It was the Irish that we're gonna be showing up 300 years later demanding Chinese Salaries for things the blacks were doing just to sleep with all the white women. Hopefully that didn't ruin the book for you, but it's all in there. How the Indians brought ethnicity to the masses. The day we discovered the mexican hiding under a rock. The quizzes are great and the how to make your own hong kong phooey is so cosmic North Korea would say tiger style in a bathtub. The Japanes have sushi, we have ethnic America. Love it or Leave it, just cut me a line, cuz I'm gonna snort some.
Conservative Historiograpghy (i.e. lies and distortions)  Aug 26, 2007
Sowell, as with many conservative 'intellectuals' and so-called Black conservatives in particular is incredibly a-historical in his analysis and Eurocentric. He takes as his model the voluntary immigrants and used the idea a the standard by which to judge progress. In the case of Blacks and Indians, in particular, he is absolutely silent on the fact that the Western notion of private property on the the United States Empire is based in based on massive fraud and violence in the grand theft of Indian lands on which the American Racial State is based. Secondly, he chooses to ignore the reality of the American Racial State on which the 'democracy' was based. Fifty five white men met at Philadelphia to frame a Constitution to save the fledgling Fedaration of colonies. No Blacks! No Women! No Native Americans! No White males who did not meet a property qualification! That very Constitution defined Blacks as 3/5 of a person for the purposes of apportioning Congressional seats to White men. If that is not White Affirmative Action then I don't know what is. For several hundred years, under the enforcement apparatus of the American Racial State, Blacks worked without compensation under a slave regime/ Conservatives cannot come to terms with this reality which goes to the heart of the so-called meritocracy. America was not based on meritocracy and it was not until Caucasains got the upper hand that they began to talk about 'meritocracy.' And I won't get into to the Black Codes and the Jim Crow laws, all designed to crush Black self-determination, while whites continued to derive the advantage. Thus Sowell and his like, Walter Williams, will never be viewed as trully objective historians in the service of the think tanks, until they are honest about the reality that Blacks and Native Americans cannot in any way fit the 'ethnic immigrant' mold where ethnic Irish (the most violent and anti-democratic of the European ethnic groups) would get the right to vote, for example, while Blacks were still classified as property (slaves)and would go on to build political machines that enabled them to utilize the Racial State for their advancement while eliminating their enemies. This American history. No amount of prodigous footnotes and comparisons of 'IQs, 'Income' and other general indicators of 'attainment' will change this fact when the deck was staked from the beggining.
Good, but dated  Sep 9, 2006
Good review of the HISTORY of ethnic America, but a lot of this 20 year-old information is simply no longer valid - primarily stuff about the Mexicans.

It was also somewhat of a slow read at times with a little repetition. It was different from a lot of his other books in that this one was not political at all. I really can't recall him making any of his vehement arguments on social policy like he does in some of his other books.

Overall, it is another well-researched Sowell masterpiece that anyone interested in the interaction of different races, cultures, beliefs, and histories of the different ethnic groups that make up the American melting pot should read.
Why is there no Polish chapter?  Sep 7, 2006
Each group in gets it's own chapter. Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians etc. This book is now 24 years old, still a useful history book. Listened to the audio version & all the figures statistics & explanations of the charts in the book are forgotten. But not the interesting stories of each ethnic group. Some of the immigrants came with the idea of moving here permenantly. Many of the Irish that came to America in the early 1850's were starving. There was nothing to return to in Ireland for except poverty & possibly more famine. Africans had come to America involuntarily. They had been brought on slave ships since the early colonial days. This was their home. There was no place to go back to. Jews & eastern Europeans were many times oppressed or persecuted in their homelands. They were seeking a permenant new life in America. Many Germans & northern Europeans were lured by the promise of fertile, plentiful & cheap farmland. They were putting down roots figuratively & actually. There were other types of immigrants Mr. Sowell refers to as Sojouners. The various Italian groups came here without their families. These men came either to make some quick money to send home or to make arrangemets if they decided to return with their extended families. Mexicans & Puerto-Ricans sent money home & often returned home sometimes never to return. The Chinese men came singularly, sending money home or sending for their families. Because of the long distances back to China this did not always work out. For a long time there were an excess of men with very few Chinese women for them. Early on there was little inter-marriage of ethnic groups. Marriage outside your ethnic group is basically a 20th century phenomenon. Many groups had hatreds & prejudices brought from home. For example, Italians generally did not come to America as Italians. They saw themselves as Calabrians or Sardinians or Sicilians, whatever. Italians from the same region or town would live on the same street in America. In this case, there was a lot of violence in Brooklyn between one region from Italy & another. Hatered of former countrymen was common. Western Europeons, mostly Germans had come to America & established themselves became prosperous & blended in. They had contempt for their Eastern German brothers, with strange ways, language & clothing. They were embarassed yet felt obligated many times to take care of them. Similarly, Jews arriving in different times had probelms. Many had assimilated becoming unobtrusive, yet sucessful in profesional fields. Later arriving Jews still had a strangeness & stood out with ancient religious practices & culture that threatened many Americans. All Jews suffered from subsequent anti-Semitism in the United States. All groups had pratices or characteristics unique depending on their past culture. Irish were quick to fight quick to forgive. Their culture involved a lot of drinking & drunkeness. Their's was an urban culture & they leaned toward urban professions, dock workers, fireman, police, politicians etc. They did not value education or fidelity. Most Italains drank but never to drunkeness. Extremely tight-knit family & close friend units. They frowned on education & distrusted the church as those two institutions tended to disrupt close family life. They were good farmers. Having worked old, played out, soil for centuries in Italy they thrived on the bounty of fertile, virgin American farmland. Slow to anger they were also slow to forgive. They clashed with Irish whereever they met. They got along well with the Chinese. Jews were lousy farners. Another urban culture, they valued education & the professions. One of the first most properous groups also very family oriented. Germans also valued education many Germans becoming skilled craftsman in many small towns through-out the new country. This review could go on & on. One thing is clear; no ethnic group was marked superior, in basic intelligence, all things being equal, which they usually were not. Though this book is a little dated the author even then rejects the term "melting pot". He considers it insulting.

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