- This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne
2016 124p illus. with photographs ISBN 978-1-4197-1660-7 $24.95 R Gr. 5-9
The melting-pot model of the American immigrant experience—that newcomers tend to embrace a recognizable American culture and blend into the furniture, so to speak—has generally been abandoned in favor of a less rosy but more realistic view that stresses plurality over a straight trajectory toward full assimilation. Here Osborne presents this nuanced approach and emphasizes a persistent pattern of initial American resistance to immigrant, regardless of place of origin, followed by the newcomers’ tendency to join in established biases as soon as they finally regard themselves as mainstream. It’s a depressing pattern for readers to follow, yet Osborne offers considerable supportive evidence as she chronologically traces the experiences of Germans and Irish; Italians, and Eastern Europeans, including Jews; Asians; Latin Americans; and most recent waves of refugees. Outline and structure have a textbook aura, but a wealth of photographs and frequent inclusion of immigrant voices enliven the text. With source notes, a bibliography with youth resources noted, and an index, this will best serve as a starting point for students getting their bearings on a complex issue and could make a counterpart to Osborne’s examinations of forced migration of slaves and the internal Great Migration in Miles to Go for Freedom (BCCB 3/12) and Traveling the Freedom Road.