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132KOREAN STUDIES, VOL. 22 annexation" were instrumental in sustaining ethnically distinct Korean business associations (133). This distinction is further highlighted in chapter 7, which focuses on the controversy that hit the Jinsen Grain Exchange ('Jinto') in 1919. As he puts it, the controversy "offers initial evidence of organization and ideologies among emerging interest groups necessary for social mobilization in civil society" (156). The final chapter brings together a number concepts that inform and underlie this research: incorporation, state and society, and comparative colonialism. Overall, McNamara's book is an important and valuable contribution both to the literature on Korean colonialism and on Korean development since Liberation. His research demonstrates clearly, if not unequivocally the need to broaden our field of vision, to look to the local level in order to fully understand large-scale social change and transformation. It also augments our understanding of colonial precedents, and their effect on patterns of state-society relations in the post-liberation period. This said, McNamara's work suffers from one serious drawback: simply put, it is extremely difficult to read. Nowhere, for example, does the author clearly lay out his argument (despite an effort to do so on pages 12-16). In seeking to get a firm grasp of the argument, I found myself flipping back and forth between the preface, introduction, conclusion and intervening chapters. A large part of the problem is the writing style: long, jargon-studded, and frequently dense sentences are a staple of the book. In speaking of Japan's inability immediately to institute wholesale reform in Korean agriculture, for instance, McNamara treats us to a 43-word sentence: "As newcomers to the peninsula at the very end of the nineteenth century bent on expanding the grain trade to support markets in the home islands, the commercial vanguard from Japan and subsequent colonists settled for reform rather than revolution in the countryside " (3). The foregoing sentence may not be difficult to follow; but still, too many such sentences take a toll on the average reader. This is regrettable, for I fear that many readers will simply not have the patience to wade through the dense prose of what is an otherwise useful and valuable book. Timothy C. Lim California State University, Los Angeles Caught in the Middle: Korean Communities in New York and Los Angeles [inside subtitle: Korean Merchants in America's Multiethnic Cities], by Pyong Gap Min. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996. 261 pp., $45.00 cloth, $17.00 paper. The 1990 census data indicated that 34.5% of foreign-born Koreans between 25 and 64 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area were self-employed. Indeed, BOOK REVIEWS133 Korean immigrants showed the highest self-employment rate among all minority and immigrant groups in Los Angeles. Caught in the Middle carefully examines the consequences of a high concentration of Korean immigrants in certain small business activities. It is well researched, sensibly argued, and clearly written—a welcome addition to the literature on Korean American Studies. Based on sociological analysis and meticulous documentation , and drawing upon surveys, interview data, and newspaper articles, it serves as an important guide to the contemporary Korean American experience. Min's basic contention is that the middleman minority thesis is the most useful perspective available for understanding the effects of Korean ethnic business on "ethnic solidarity" (defined as a particular form of collective action) (18). Middleman minorities—for instance, Jews in Medieval Europe, Chinese in southeast Asia, and Asian Indians in Africa—concentrate in trading and typically distribute merchandise produced by members of the dominant group to minority customers. Previous scholarship on middleman minority theory, advanced by Bonacich, Model, and Turner, postulates that there are triadic causal relationships between a middleman group's ethnic solidarity, its economic role, and host hostility. Accordingly, Min explores how the "middleman" economic role that Korean immigrant merchants often occupy (between lowincome , minority customers on the one hand and large corporate suppliers on the other) leads to interethnic conflicts: boycotts by African American customers , discriminatory treatment by white wholesalers, commercial rent hikes by white landlords, and disadvantageous regulations imposed by government agencies. Moreover, he shows how ethnic conflict strengthens ties within Korean communities as members...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 132-135
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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