Because hers is a quasi-morality tale of the victory of tolerant reformers over bigoted obstructionists, Yang detours around the central irony in her historical account: that two of the most significant provisions of the 1965 act, the opening of doors to Asian immigrants (including her father) and the closing of them, through the imposition of quotas, to Latin Americans, principally Mexicans, were not part of the reformers’ agenda during the 40-year 'epic struggle' that is the subject of her book ... While 'we tend to describe immigrants’ stories as feats of will and strokes of destiny,' Yang reminds us, 'it is not destiny that brings a family here but politics.' This is a message worth noting as we approach November.
Jia Lynn Yang pans wide across the often overlooked 40-year battle to overhaul racist and restrictive immigration laws passed in the early 20th century ... Yang...digs into the tectonic geopolitical shifts that led to the law’s passage. Along the way, she reminds her audience that the current president’s divisive and at times racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric is hardly an outlier in American history ... Yang sketches lively portraits of the famous and obscure players behind the legislative fights ... As...Yang demonstrate[s], it will inevitably require a reckoning with both the history and the present story we tell ourselves about America being a nation of immigrants.
... readable and at times enthralling ... the real energy of this volume comes from the drive for the comprehensive overhaul that was in large measure a redemption of the original American immigration dream ... Yang has written a captivating account, full of personality and drama — and significance. In our time, with fresh contention over immigration, it is worth reading to the last page.