Ethnic America: A History Paperback – 28 Feb 1983
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About the Author
Thomas Sowell is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of dozens of books and the recipient of various awards, including the National Humanities Medal, Presented by the President of the United States in 2003.
Top customer reviews
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.
This book will show you a new way of thinking about race and culture in America, with many surprising facts and concepts.
Whilst the general trend is of groups becoming more assimilated and more typical of the USA over time, different groups demonstrated different behaviours back in their countries of origin and these traits often persisted for decades or centuries after the groups were Americans. Thus even when groups lived next to each other in the USA the outcomes for each were very different on a variety of different measures, be it educational achievement, political success, crime rates and economic success.
Not all groups assimilate at the same rate or to the same extent however there are trends which are common among all groups. There are exceptions to this general pattern, the Mexicans for example haven't integrated as quickly as the European groups because of the proximity of Mexico to the USA lessens the imperative to integrate. Blacks were until the post-War era frequently prevented from integrating.
As with most of Sowell's books the analysis is logical and evidence based. This means that his analysis of immigration is neither alarmist nor pollyannaish. Most immigrant groups do integrate over time but there are real costs to be borne along the way.
The no nonsense writing style can make the book somewhat dry at times but that is a minor quibble.
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