Synopses & Reviews
The second wave of U.S. immigration, from 1870 to 1920, brought more than 26 million men, women, and children onto American shores. June Granatir Alexander's history of the period underscores the diversity of peoples who came to the United States in these years and emphasizes the important shifts in their geographic origins from northern and western Europe to southern and eastern Europe that led to the distinction between old and new immigrants. Alexander offers an engrossing picture of the immigrants' daily lives, including the settlement patterns of individuals and families, the demographics and characteristics of each of the ethnic groups, and the pressures to Americanize that often made the adjustment to life in a new country so difficult. The approach, similar to David Kyvig's highly successful Daily Life in the United States, 1920 1940 (published by Ivan R. Dee in 2004), presents history with an appealing immediacy, on a level that everyone can understand.
"The companion volume to James Bergquist's Daily Life in Immigrant America, 1820-1870, Alexander's book falls short of expectations. Exhaustive in its coverage and modest in its aims, the book brings together the latest scholarship about this classic period of immigration for general readers. It covers the shift of immigrants from northern, eastern and southern Europe as well as the opening of immigration from Asia, paying close attention to the anxieties and prejudices that their strangeness aroused. Alexander creates a tale of struggle, adaptation and success, but also of pain and loss. While Alexander claims to avoid an interpretive slant, she often portrays resident Americans in bad light, while laying strong and appropriate emphasis on the immigrants' geographic, occupational and economic mobility. Alexander carefully distinguishes between the customs and situations of the many nationalities that flooded the nation. Notably she examines the move to Western farms-a trend among some immigrants of avoiding cities. Although an overlooked aspect of immigrant history, Alexander often generalizes from the few particular stories she provides. However nicely written, the work lacks the color and life that it might otherwise have had." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The second wave of U.S. immigration, from 1870 to 1920, brought more than 26 million men, women, and children onto American shores. June Alexander's history of the period underscores the diversity of peoples who came to the United States in these years and emphasizes the important shifts in their geographic origins-from northern and western Europe to southern and eastern Europe-that led to the distinction between old and new immigrants.