The Immigrant Experience

In a nation of immigrants, picking 10 books about the immigrant experience is no easy task. One could plausibly argue that any book about post-Columbian America concerns the immigrant experience. Therefore, I established a few basic guidelines in order to make the job a little more feasible. Some of these, I think, rest on pretty solid ground. I have not, for instance, included any books on slavery.Read more »

The Tenement Museum

On Manhattan’s Lower East Side you can visit a haunting re-creation of a life that was at once harder and better than we remember

For many immigrants, moving to a new country is in ways like becoming a child again. Like children, they have few connections outside of their immediate families; some cannot speak the language well and are assumed to be ignorant and mute; they may have few skills or few ways to apply those skills. And like children, they feel strongly the pain of loneliness. The vast majority of American immigrant families, whether they came here in 1790 or 1990, have known this loneliness, but their descendants don’t know what that feels like.

 
 
 
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Welcome To America

A walk through the old Jewish Lower East Side of New York City recalls the era when that battered, close-packed quarter was a high-pressure machine for the manufacture of Americans

Walking Manhattan’s Lower East Side is like browsing through a family album of American Jewry. Irish, German, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, and, in the last forty years, increasingly large numbers of Spanish-speaking and Asian immigrants have shared this four-milesquare enclave, but it is not ethnic effrontery to call the old city quarter the Jewish Lower East Side; none of the other sometime residents have laid such a heavy sentimental the claim to the ground as have American Jews.Read more »