One Mighty and Irresistible Tide Summary and Reviews

One Mighty and Irresistible Tide

The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965

by Jia Lynn Yang

One Mighty and Irresistible Tide by Jia Lynn Yang X
One Mighty and Irresistible Tide by Jia Lynn Yang
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Book Summary

A sweeping history of the twentieth-century battle to reform American immigration laws that set the stage for today's roiling debates.

The idea of the United States as a nation of immigrants is at the core of the American narrative. But in 1924, Congress instituted a system of ethnic quotas so stringent that it choked off large-scale immigration for decades, sharply curtailing arrivals from southern and eastern Europe and outright banning those from nearly all of Asia.

In a riveting narrative filled with a fascinating cast of characters, from the indefatigable congressman Emanuel Celler and senator Herbert Lehman to the bull-headed Nevada senator Pat McCarran, Jia Lynn Yang recounts how lawmakers, activists, and presidents from Truman through LBJ worked relentlessly to abolish the 1924 law. Through a world war, a refugee crisis after the Holocaust, and a McCarthyist fever, a coalition of lawmakers and activists descended from Jewish, Irish, and Japanese immigrants fought to establish a new principle of equality in the American immigration system. Their crowning achievement, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, proved to be one of the most transformative laws in the country's history, opening the door to nonwhite migration at levels never seen before―and changing America in ways that those who debated it could hardly have imagined.

Framed movingly by her own family's story of immigration to America, Yang's One Mighty and Irresistible Tide is a deeply researched and illuminating work of history, one that shows how Americans have strived and struggled to live up to the ideal of a home for the "huddled masses," as promised in Emma Lazarus's famous poem.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[E]xcellent...Yang highlights human and political drama, from the histrionics of racists to the political machinations of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson...[she] also reveals the roles of unsung heroes like White House aide Mike Feldman, who shaped JFK's message in A Nation of Immigrants...Critical in understanding today's immigration issues." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The combination of meticulous research and captivating writing creates a beautiful surprise; a dark history that gleams under the spotlight of unvarnished truthtelling. Expect a lot of reader requests and award attention for this significant title." - Booklist (starred review)

"Yang's comprehensive and easy-to-follow record of a crucial period in the evolution of U.S. immigration policy sheds light on the political, cultural, and historical considerations behind this contentious issue. Readers seeking insights into contemporary proposals to reform the system will find plenty in this lucid account." - Publishers Weekly

"A clear, well-crafted historical overview of U.S. immigration, and the people who shaped it. Yang defines the issues these debates raised but never settled in a way that informs without overwhelming readers." - Library Journal

"Powerful, riveting, and beautifully written, this book tells the story of how the most significant immigration laws in the twentieth century came to pass in the United States. From Takao Ozawa's heartbreaking bid to become a citizen to our nation's rejection of Jewish refugees of World War II, Jia Lynn Yang exposes the myth that ours is a nation that has consistently welcomed immigrants. With force and imagination she transports us to the halls of Congress and the White House and shepherds us through four decades of political conflict. This book could not be more timely...It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how politics has shaped, and can shape, the lives of immigrants in the United States." - Michelle Kuo, author of Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship

This information about One Mighty and Irresistible Tide was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Jia Lynn Yang

Jia Lynn Yang, a deputy national editor at the New York Times, was previously deputy national security editor at the Washington Post, where she was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Trump and Russia. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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