Hot Best Seller

Ethnic America: A History

Availability: Ready to download

This classic work by the distinguished economist traces the history of nine American ethnic groups -- the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Chinese, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans.


Compare

This classic work by the distinguished economist traces the history of nine American ethnic groups -- the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Chinese, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans.

30 review for Ethnic America: A History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    Ethnic America By: Thomas Sowell Narrated by: James Bundy This book was recommended to me by someone and I am glad they did. I was able to pick the audible version up free from Audible because I have a membership and it's on the Plus catalog. This book goes through each of the main groups of Immigrant population that has come to America. It follows the group as a whole through the years describing the difficulties, the places they moved to, jobs, education, what they contributed to America, male to Ethnic America By: Thomas Sowell Narrated by: James Bundy This book was recommended to me by someone and I am glad they did. I was able to pick the audible version up free from Audible because I have a membership and it's on the Plus catalog. This book goes through each of the main groups of Immigrant population that has come to America. It follows the group as a whole through the years describing the difficulties, the places they moved to, jobs, education, what they contributed to America, male to female ratio, and so much more. There is invaluable information on each! It really is astounding how thorough this book is. The only thing I disagree with in here is when he cites the IQ tests. We know now that IQ tests are often based on knowledge of the society you are familiar with. To give a test to a foreign child that has no knowledge of Western society is ridiculous. Other than this, the book is a terrific book about each society and how it weaves together to make America, for better or worse. We can't change the past but we can change the future! There were prejudices against each of these groups. Not a shiny moment for us when every one of us, except the Native Americans, were from foreigners themselves. There is still that population that harbors hate towards minorities. Minorities made America!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Guixin Jiang

    I have read this after I studied overseas in the United States for 2 years. Before my coming to the USA, I barely have the idea of how the concept "ethnic" could virtually impact how people behave, how they communicate, and how they like each other. After all, I live in a society (China) where I have compatriots, namely the same ethnic, for over a billion people! We speak the same language, share the same culture and civilization, have the same expectation of others' behavior and therefore, nev I have read this after I studied overseas in the United States for 2 years. Before my coming to the USA, I barely have the idea of how the concept "ethnic" could virtually impact how people behave, how they communicate, and how they like each other. After all, I live in a society (China) where I have compatriots, namely the same ethnic, for over a billion people! We speak the same language, share the same culture and civilization, have the same expectation of others' behavior and therefore, never have an explicit idea of how life will be when we are living with people of different ethnics. When I was reading this book, I at first felt like its narrative method, which is very clear to introduce history of different ethnics. The author assigned each chapter for each different ethnic, such as American Irish, American Jewish, American Mexican and so on. Then there is a set of very detailed chronicle for each ethnic, from how their very first generation landed on the United States and their endeavor to become a concrete part of US society. But from what I read within this book, one thing became increasingly clear, which is that nearly every ethnic has actually earned their status through various efforts, and nearly every ethnics has his own history of being despised by other ethnics who had came to the US before them. Also, through an overview of the history of each ethnic in the US, I could also see the special traits in them. For example, Chinese American and Japanese American tend to be reclusive and tacit in their participation in American society, which is due to the cultural impact of Confucius; whereas Irish American have large success in their political careers, which is because they have similar experience for campaign back in their home, Ireland. This book really opened my mind for different ethnics: their background, their culture, and their history in America, especially for me as a Chinese, who has not much experience living with other ethnic people.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rob Altemare

    Excellent read. How can a guy take such deep and specific technical data and weave it into a fascinating story? Thomas Sowell is one of the most brilliant men in America. Even back in 1986 (or thereabouts) when this story was written, he's already honed his unique ability to make hard data completely fascinating. Amazing! Excellent read. How can a guy take such deep and specific technical data and weave it into a fascinating story? Thomas Sowell is one of the most brilliant men in America. Even back in 1986 (or thereabouts) when this story was written, he's already honed his unique ability to make hard data completely fascinating. Amazing!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicko

    Each immigrant group has changed in America, and American society has changed in many ways. The most dramatic example is that today there are people sitting in Congress and on the Supreme Court whose ancestors were brought here as slaves. Among the world's leading scientific, political, and economic figures today are Americans whose immigrant ancestors were once dismissed as 'the beaten men of beaten races.' Nothing has so vindicated the untapped potential of ordinary people as the American expe Each immigrant group has changed in America, and American society has changed in many ways. The most dramatic example is that today there are people sitting in Congress and on the Supreme Court whose ancestors were brought here as slaves. Among the world's leading scientific, political, and economic figures today are Americans whose immigrant ancestors were once dismissed as 'the beaten men of beaten races.' Nothing has so vindicated the untapped potential of ordinary people as the American experience.

  5. 5 out of 5

    A

    Great book I should have read ages ago. Sowell tells the story of America's major ethnic groups like a Detective who worked the beat, and then retired a Librarian-Archivist. There's little to no dearth of detail, but he's an Academic (Economist) not a Dramatist (warning to those easily overwhelmed by long-winded data interpretation). In his Ethnic America Sowell tracks the origins of each ethnic group from the circumstances and conditions that drove or forced them from their homelands through th Great book I should have read ages ago. Sowell tells the story of America's major ethnic groups like a Detective who worked the beat, and then retired a Librarian-Archivist. There's little to no dearth of detail, but he's an Academic (Economist) not a Dramatist (warning to those easily overwhelmed by long-winded data interpretation). In his Ethnic America Sowell tracks the origins of each ethnic group from the circumstances and conditions that drove or forced them from their homelands through their upward mobility within the predominant Anglo American paradigm upon arrival to the United States with methodical consideration. This isn't the short and sweet Anglicized version of U.S. History I got in grade school, but a portrait that does justice to the peoples who sacrificed, endured, and are now part of the American fabric. While these stories have been told time and again I like how Sowell brought just about everything he could under one hood. Of course Sowell's approach could no doubt be called broad, but take into account that groups were far less diverse and far more united in cultural patterns than today. Hence making a book like this possible, and valuable for understanding this past and how it shaped our present. Although he does acknowledge diversity where it occurs. I did thoroughly enjoy this for the material, and I also feel it's an important contribution to American History. I recommend it for anyone interested in our cultural origins and legacies, whether teacher or student of social science or just researching your own familial past trying to get a picture how things were. Unfortunately there are no citations in the Audiobook, but anyone with enough interest should be able to locate government and other primary archived sources to follow along. Those not inclined towards Sowell's political views shouldn't be deterred, this is a straight telling and it isn't until the final chapter where he provides his own thoughts on causality.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David

    Ethnic America: A History by Thomas Sowell is another excellent work by the distinguished economist that traces the history of nine major American ethnic groups -- the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans. He researched each group individually from their living conditions in their home countries to why they felt the need to come to America and details how they made the journey and adapted to their new country. This method lets us see s Ethnic America: A History by Thomas Sowell is another excellent work by the distinguished economist that traces the history of nine major American ethnic groups -- the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans. He researched each group individually from their living conditions in their home countries to why they felt the need to come to America and details how they made the journey and adapted to their new country. This method lets us see similarities and differences in how or if these ethnic groups became proud Americans; some taking longer than others. Professor Sowell also presents many of the general immigration laws and discusses why and how they changed over many years in reaction to experiences with some of these groups. As is his usual custom, he digs to find and organize and presents the facts along with his analysis and commentary about what he has found. For each ethnic group he also explores how things changed from the first generation that chose to leave their home countries to come here and how quickly subsequent generations adapted to being fully absorbed into American culture, sometimes shocking their parents. Very well written as is commonly expected with any book by Dr. Thomas Sowell!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    America is full of distinct ethnic groups. They have had substantially different experiences. This is a compare-and-contrast of nine such groups: The Irish, Italians, Germans, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans. He is particularly interested in the extent to which groups prospered in America, how they did it, and how their group history and cultural tendencies influenced their trajectory. This was first published around 1980 and it shows. For one, Sowell's wor America is full of distinct ethnic groups. They have had substantially different experiences. This is a compare-and-contrast of nine such groups: The Irish, Italians, Germans, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans. He is particularly interested in the extent to which groups prospered in America, how they did it, and how their group history and cultural tendencies influenced their trajectory. This was first published around 1980 and it shows. For one, Sowell's word choice jars a modern reader. For another, the different white ethnic groups are noticeably less distinct now than they were then. For a third, there have been important inflection points in the Black and Hispanic experience since 1980. On the other hand, because Sowell was writing in a different era, he is much blunter about historical aspects we would today try to brush past without engaging. He spends a fair bit of time talking about cleavages within the black community, specifically the West Indian community vs the "old" northern Black community vs people whose families were enslaved until 1865. In Sowell's account these groups had shockingly little mixing down to 1980 and a wildly disproportionate part of the Black leadership was the middle group. (Sowell doesn't mention it, but his family were the last of these groups.) Even the basic structure of the book feels alien to a 2020 reader. We have the notion that it is at best impolite, and at worst bigoted, to generalize about ethnic groups. But I think this is a notion we should push past. Culture is a real thing and ethnic history is a real thing and it's impossible to talk about either without talking about cultural traits. There are some striking patterns and paradoxes that caught my eye. - The Irish very quickly had a preeminent position in urban politics and the Catholic Church -- from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th, both were dominated by the Irish, even though they were a fairly small fraction of the population and even a minority of the Catholic population. Sowell attributes this to their high degree of ethnic consciousness, long experience having "shadow" institutions under British rule and cultural affinity to Anglo-American institutions. - In 1900, American organized crime wasn't Italian. To the extent that the Italians took it over in the '20s and '30s, they had to out-compete the incumbents. Sowell points out that the Italians had the reputation of drinking less, brawling less, having tighter-knit families and clans, and responding violently when pushed too far -- all which were comparative advantages in crime. - There is a widespread view (I often see it said today) that education is the ticket to advancement. Sowell dissents. He argues that almost every ethnic group he profiles was moving up in wealth well before its members started going to college in large numbers. Education in his view is the consequence, not the cause, of advancement. Instead he points to hard work and accumulation of capital. and particularly accumulation of social capital. - In particular, there are a number of cases where particular industries had a pronounced ethnic tilt. The pre-made pre-sized clothing industry was (in Sowell's account) a creation of Jewish sweatshop workers. The contract gardening industry was more or less invented by Japanese Californians. And of course the American industrial brewing industry was dominated by Germans starting in the 19th century. And the Napa wine industry had a distinctly Italian bent to it. In all these cases, the capital required is relatively small, the barriers to entry aren't very high, and there was no particular reason other groups couldn't have gotten into the business -- but they didn't. And once a particular group starts to dominate, there are network effects. People teach their cousins to do it, they have suppliers who speak their language, and so forth. Sowell hints that something similar might be happening with the Irish control of the US Catholic church. This has important practical corollaries. It says that if you are in an ethnic group and want to promote prosperity for your group, you should be thinking about group strategies, and particularly about a sort of group "industrial policy" -- picking some economic activity where you can create and deploy social capital to create value and keep it for your people.

  8. 5 out of 5

    James Henderson

    Ethnic America is a unique portrait of the great American ethic mosaic. Thomas Sowell relates the history of immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and how this history was unique for each group. Within the larger geographic groups he identifies specific ethnic groups that include Irish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, and others. He analyzes each group providing background context and the results of their success or lack of success in integrating and becoming Ethnic America is a unique portrait of the great American ethic mosaic. Thomas Sowell relates the history of immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and how this history was unique for each group. Within the larger geographic groups he identifies specific ethnic groups that include Irish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, and others. He analyzes each group providing background context and the results of their success or lack of success in integrating and becoming a part of American culture. His perspective is eye-opening and the results provide both answers and challenges for the interested reader. As a result it has become a favorite of mine for its fascinating exploration of different ethnic groups and their story in America including their struggles and contributions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex Zakharov

    A great short history of immigration into America – Sowell covers all the major immigration groups including Irish, Germans, Blacks, Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans. What I found interesting is how Sowell treats immigration almost as an evolutionary study of adaptability of various cultures to the host country. Each culture with its own unique history and set of values has its own way of integrating (or not integrating) and adapting to the new homeland. And yes, cu A great short history of immigration into America – Sowell covers all the major immigration groups including Irish, Germans, Blacks, Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans. What I found interesting is how Sowell treats immigration almost as an evolutionary study of adaptability of various cultures to the host country. Each culture with its own unique history and set of values has its own way of integrating (or not integrating) and adapting to the new homeland. And yes, cultures are different and Sowell is careful not to label any culture as a whole as inferior or superior, but one can certainly make a judgment whether certain aspect(s) of a culture would make it easier or harder to succeed in a particular context and in this case the specific context is immigration into America/United States. And of course, even within a given culture, there are typically multiple waves of immigration which could (and did) vary significantly in their composition, goals, and subcultures. For example the history of North vs South Italians is quite different, and their experiences in the United States are also quite different. Or consider Chinese immigration from mainland China vs Hong Kong – again the patterns of experience within United States are quite different. Another example is African vs Carribean Blacks – yet again, some pretty significant differences when it comes to their experience in Americas (and then US). Along the way Sowell debunks a few conceptions and misconceptions about measuring/comparing performance (via income, IQ, leadership) within and among different groups whether those groups are defined by race, ethnicity, gender, age or geography. Sowell gives many examples of misapplications of statistics and it is refreshing to see a sober perspective on a number of sensitive subjects. Yes, there are differences among various groups – some of those differences fall away when you take a closer look (by factoring out noise and adjusting for age and/or geography for example) but some differences are real and quantifiable for a given snapshot in time; none of those differences have to be permanent, but various groups/cultures did differ in the speed of their progress and success in America for a slew of different reasons. Some of these reasons have to do with discrimination (which was a factor for almost every single immigrant group, although the strength of that factor differed), some of these reasons have to do with group’s values (shaped by their previous history among other things) and some of these reasons have to do with the readiness with which the group took advantage of opportunities offered to them. Finally, the stories of journeys of various groups are still continuing, and the subject of cultural and group differences is as sensitive as ever. Employing a perspective free of both bias and political correctness would go a long way in understanding what can be done (and just as importantly what should not be done) to facilitate the continuing progress of any given cultural group.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    This is another 5 star book from Thomas Sowell. Sowell writes about ethnic groups in America. He dedicates a chapter to the Irish, Germans, Jews Italians Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Puerto-ricans, and Mexicans. He illuminates how differences in behavior are best explained by the cultures and values of these ethnic groups. The immediate environment which included hardships and discrimination seems to have little influence on the behavior of these groups. Sowell's writing does not sugarcoat the issu This is another 5 star book from Thomas Sowell. Sowell writes about ethnic groups in America. He dedicates a chapter to the Irish, Germans, Jews Italians Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Puerto-ricans, and Mexicans. He illuminates how differences in behavior are best explained by the cultures and values of these ethnic groups. The immediate environment which included hardships and discrimination seems to have little influence on the behavior of these groups. Sowell's writing does not sugarcoat the issues. He explains with amazing clarity how different groups and cultures are better in some areas and worse in others. He separates cause and effect analysis from moral analysis. It is a fascinating book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim B

    Sowell's tracing the history of assimilation of nine American ethnic groups (Irish, German, Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks--slave and later free, Puero Rican, and Mexican) helps the reader understand the cycle of large groups from a nationality arriving and adapting in America. Every American should read this book in order to discuss immigration or to ponder the race issue in America. Sowell's tracing the history of assimilation of nine American ethnic groups (Irish, German, Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks--slave and later free, Puero Rican, and Mexican) helps the reader understand the cycle of large groups from a nationality arriving and adapting in America. Every American should read this book in order to discuss immigration or to ponder the race issue in America.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    I am reading this book by Hans Rosling and I now see it calls into question the accuracy of this book. Too many generalizations and the false notion that the past is prologue to more of the same. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... Also true of "The Fate of Africa" by Martin Meredith. I am reading this book by Hans Rosling and I now see it calls into question the accuracy of this book. Too many generalizations and the false notion that the past is prologue to more of the same. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... Also true of "The Fate of Africa" by Martin Meredith.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    Ethnic America is an examination of how well the 7 major groups of American immigrants are doing relatively. It was a nice read, particularly the chapters on the Japanese, Puerto Ricans and the Easter European Jews.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Giulia Paris

    Wow, it is amazing how just every ethnic cluster mentioned in he book suffered when they first came here. I feel like the boook might have been a bit biased like against the irish, but otherwise it is very engaging and with many interesting statistics.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eclaghorn

    Great big book of facts. Love how Sowell doesn't spend a lot of time telling you what he thinks but rather how things are. Great big book of facts. Love how Sowell doesn't spend a lot of time telling you what he thinks but rather how things are.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karnok

    Another great book by the most eloquent writer on economics I know of. This book was a bit dryer than his others but this is understandable as it was written much earlier. It's full to the brim of interesting facts and information about various ethnic groups in America - Jews, the Irish, Italians, Germans, blacks, Puerto-Ricans and Mexicans (and probably others I've forgotten). It covers things like their attitudes toward education, family and work, the areas they excelled in and areas they were Another great book by the most eloquent writer on economics I know of. This book was a bit dryer than his others but this is understandable as it was written much earlier. It's full to the brim of interesting facts and information about various ethnic groups in America - Jews, the Irish, Italians, Germans, blacks, Puerto-Ricans and Mexicans (and probably others I've forgotten). It covers things like their attitudes toward education, family and work, the areas they excelled in and areas they were below average in, the skills they brought with them and the way all these things changed (or didn't change) over time. It may strike some as odd or refreshing that Sowell has no obvious agenda with this book other than to show how colourful humanity is in all its variations and yet how many similarities and patterns also exist. Perhaps he is trying to make the point that substantial differences in values and behaviours can result in different outcomes without needing to turn to DISCRIMINATION as the one and only possible cause. But no, he's not making that point, the facts are. His discipline in sticking to careful and thoughtful analysis without making major speculative claims make him a rare kind of writer indeed. Many of the facts presented here are echoed in Sowell's later work (including The Economics and Politics of Race and his Race and Culture trilogy). He's the best writer on the subject I know of (not that I'm an expert). I think it's invaluable to have some familiarity with these facts. When people say something is due to "the legacy of slavery", it sounds like a bizarre joke when you actually understand the greater context of how cultural groups have typically progressed historically. Almost all groups have endured various hardships and many groups succeed in spite of racism or fail despite having political power. Sowell gives similar attention to every group and focuses on pointing out the patterns of behaviour without always trying to pinpoint why or push some grand theory of his. Some interesting facts: - Life expectancy among black slaves was about 36 compared to 19 for Irish peasants around the same time period. - Southern Italians had less interest in education (the kids that wanted to leave school and work were considered the good ones) than their Northern Italian counterparts. - Immigrants are often 90% male in early years (or some other high proportion), the idea being that mothers stay with the family while the father sends money back home and perhaps they reunite at some point. - Jews scored below average in IQ scores at the time of WWI but later overtook the average, even poorer Jews placed high value on education. - The Irish succeeded in gaining a lot of political power but were one of the slowest groups to progress economically. They also had higher rates of alcoholism and starting fights, being antagonistic with many other groups. - Practically every ethnic group seems to have its own sub-divisions, groups which may or may not get along. The actions or reputation of one group might affect the other because people can't tell the difference, creating more tension in many cases. Eg) The Chinese and later Hong Kong immigrants, the Southern/Northern Italians, different kinds of Jews (I forget the names), West Indians and blacks, etc. I think I'll leave it there, I can't do the book justice since there are so many interesting and surprising details. It's quite dense and could be worth multiple readings. Its very rewarding to feel a bit more informed about these kinds of things. This book really is a gem when it comes to thorough, unbiased information on the various races which co-exist in America. It's still perfectly relevant today.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Davidson

    The book first starts with the scale of America. “Today, there are more people of Irish ancestry in the United States than in Ireland, more Jews than in Israel, more blacks than in most African countries. There are more people of Polish ancestry in Detroit than in most of the leading cities in Poland, and more than twice as many people of Italian ancestry in New York as in Venice. … The United States is one of the largest cultural-linguistic units in the history of the world. From San Francisco The book first starts with the scale of America. “Today, there are more people of Irish ancestry in the United States than in Ireland, more Jews than in Israel, more blacks than in most African countries. There are more people of Polish ancestry in Detroit than in most of the leading cities in Poland, and more than twice as many people of Italian ancestry in New York as in Venice. … The United States is one of the largest cultural-linguistic units in the history of the world. From San Francisco to Boston is the same distance as from Madrid to Moscow. Yet here there is one language, one set of laws, and one economy in an area that, in Europe, is fragmented into a multitude of nations, languages, and competing military and political blocs. The size and cohesion of the American society is all the more remarkable because of the diverse origins of the people who make it up. As a unified nation, the United States is older than Germany or Italy. As for size, Texas is larger than France, Colorado is larger than Great Britain, and Italy is only two-thirds the size of California. The United States as a whole is larger than the Roman Empire at is greatest expansion.” It then goes into the immigration patterns from various regions, showing how different cultural and historical elements influenced people in terms of both affinities and aversions, as well as how each immigrant group rose up the socioeconomic ladder they became allergic to the poorer immigrants who came after them, even if they were from the same region. It shows how reviewing averages can mask important data between the generations. It debunks the myth that education is what causes upward mobility (most groups only invested in education that after they were affluent enough to afford to invest in it). The data indicate that location, location, location and age may be the most important factors in terms of earnings (urban areas and older workers tend to do better). An educational read. Would love to see an updated version which encompasses the last 40 years.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff G

    This book, written in 1981, is nonetheless relevant for today. In this heavily-notated work, Thomas Sowell recounts the history and progress of a number of immigrant groups that come to America. I take a number of key points from th iswork. Later generations tend to improve (in abilities, work, economic success and acculturation) compared to earlier generations. As Sowell states, "...the most striking pattern among American ethnic groups is their general rise in economic conditions with the pass This book, written in 1981, is nonetheless relevant for today. In this heavily-notated work, Thomas Sowell recounts the history and progress of a number of immigrant groups that come to America. I take a number of key points from th iswork. Later generations tend to improve (in abilities, work, economic success and acculturation) compared to earlier generations. As Sowell states, "...the most striking pattern among American ethnic groups is their general rise in economic conditions with the passage of time." (p.275) It is a mistake to assume that a statistic or fact about a people group will remain unchanged. We live in a dynamic world and economy. Thirdly, people immigrate to the US for a variety of reasons: some immigrants could be called refugees (they are forced to flee), others choose to leave their home country voluntarily and others are what Sowell calls 'sojourners' and may return to their birth country. Comparing the progress between immigrants with these different motives is difficult - and perhaps misleading. To close, let me provide another quote from the book. In writing 26 years ago about emigration from Mexico, Sowell could have been speaking these words about our world today. "Employers of agricultural and other low-paid labor have pressed for a national policy of more open access to the United States form Mexico, while groups concern with crime, welfare dependency, of other social problems...have pressed for more restrictive policies. Shifts in political strength among contending groups of American are reflected in changing immigration policies and changing levels of enforcement." (p.249) From reading this book, I have a greater appreciation for various ethnic groups and their stories in coming to America. That can help inform all of us as we consider immigration issues in our day.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Enjoyable and surprisingly fresh, even though it was published in 1981 and many of the stats are from the 1970s. Economist Sowell makes the case that though the various immigrant groups to the US endured similar challenges including poverty, lack of education, and discrimination, each brought with it attitudes and behavioral patterns shaped over centuries that influenced ways in which they adapted to their new country. Thus the Irish, unified by generations of outside oppression in Ireland, mobi Enjoyable and surprisingly fresh, even though it was published in 1981 and many of the stats are from the 1970s. Economist Sowell makes the case that though the various immigrant groups to the US endured similar challenges including poverty, lack of education, and discrimination, each brought with it attitudes and behavioral patterns shaped over centuries that influenced ways in which they adapted to their new country. Thus the Irish, unified by generations of outside oppression in Ireland, mobilized to take over politically in cities across the US in the 1800s. Italian immigrants, having no similar unifying outside oppression, took much longer to exert their influence on American political life. Sowell uses stats to show that when we control for factors such as age and geography, many of the stereotypes about different groups wash out. He also makes clear that generalizations across groups can do great harm to individuals within that group, as W.E.B. Dubois well understood. The last chapter, in which Sowell discusses the benefits of looking at our history through an economic and not just moral framework, was the most inspiring. In today's emotionally and politically-charged atmosphere, it is more important than ever to base our beliefs on the best empirical data we have.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Guanhong Sun

    As a Chinese studying in Canada. This book gave me abundant information on people living in America. From the differences between ethnic groups, I understand what qualities are the driving force for people getting better life. People in different groups made great effort and struggle to have today's achievement. As Thomas concluded as last:" No other internal problems-from alcoholism to violence-could be overcome by any group, if such things were only biased propaganda or the inevitable results o As a Chinese studying in Canada. This book gave me abundant information on people living in America. From the differences between ethnic groups, I understand what qualities are the driving force for people getting better life. People in different groups made great effort and struggle to have today's achievement. As Thomas concluded as last:" No other internal problems-from alcoholism to violence-could be overcome by any group, if such things were only biased propaganda or the inevitable results of the failures of "society". As a corollary, some of the longest and hardest struggles for self-improvement must be denied-which is to say, history itself is denied." I think we better face the fact that there are substantial differences between ethnic groups, only by this way, their achievement through generations would be respected. I don't like current hypocritical "political correct". Only removing "ethnic etiquette and sensitivities" could reduce the conflicts and isolation between groups.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Don

    location matters even by neighborhood, oppressive laws against Irish started in Ireland, Irish Hells Kitchen, German indentured servants bought/sold, 1902 first jewish HS grad NYC, Chinese with less than 10% divorce, Irish famine 1840’s, Feb42 FDR western US only not Hawaii Japanese Americans imprisoned in rural prison camps 300k with support of courts and aclu until late 44 overturned in courts, Jewish and Japanese excelled in US after much discrimination Chinese too and none via political acti location matters even by neighborhood, oppressive laws against Irish started in Ireland, Irish Hells Kitchen, German indentured servants bought/sold, 1902 first jewish HS grad NYC, Chinese with less than 10% divorce, Irish famine 1840’s, Feb42 FDR western US only not Hawaii Japanese Americans imprisoned in rural prison camps 300k with support of courts and aclu until late 44 overturned in courts, Jewish and Japanese excelled in US after much discrimination Chinese too and none via political action, arabs most cruel to blacks during slavery era, Booker Washington goals were best for blacks, Puerto Rico hurricane, Mexican revolution of 1909 killed 1m, 1m Mexicans expelled in 1954, history happens, cannot compare progress with varying goals, those held back some resulted in communist pursuits.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Atul

    Fantastic book. I have read many of Sowell’s books already, but this book taught me tons of things about America’s ethnic groups that I had never heard of previously. Sowell emphasizes cultural differences as the primary reason for disparities between ethnic groups, as opposed to racist theories of “genetic ability” and modern theories of “oppression” and “exploitation”. As Sowell mentions, the story of ethnic groups in America is ultimately a very human one. In other words, American ethnic histor Fantastic book. I have read many of Sowell’s books already, but this book taught me tons of things about America’s ethnic groups that I had never heard of previously. Sowell emphasizes cultural differences as the primary reason for disparities between ethnic groups, as opposed to racist theories of “genetic ability” and modern theories of “oppression” and “exploitation”. As Sowell mentions, the story of ethnic groups in America is ultimately a very human one. In other words, American ethnic history is not one that can be explained by simplistic theories, but a deeply complex one that has a lot to do with human, cultural differences between groups. I strongly recommend this book. Even if you already know a lot about American ethnic groups (which I did), you will learn a lot from reading it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    Simply fascinating, I can't imagine the amount of research this man had to go threw before publishing this. If you were ever curious as to how different ethnicity's fared on American soil look no further. Sowell does an excellent job describing their religion, occupations, standards, cultures and even elaborating on stats about which groups voted towards left and right. This book also holds lots of neat facts that are appreciated. The only reason I give it a 4 is because in this book, he states th Simply fascinating, I can't imagine the amount of research this man had to go threw before publishing this. If you were ever curious as to how different ethnicity's fared on American soil look no further. Sowell does an excellent job describing their religion, occupations, standards, cultures and even elaborating on stats about which groups voted towards left and right. This book also holds lots of neat facts that are appreciated. The only reason I give it a 4 is because in this book, he states that a German man(Thomas Nast I believe?) is credited with CREATING the elephant and donkey for the political party's AND that this man created the typical white bearded man we recognize as Santa. A simple google search showed me that that's not true. So who knows how many of these other little facts he hits you with may be mistaken? Regardless a fabulous book, highly recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marcelaine

    It always seems like an accomplishment when I finish a non-fiction book, but this one was well worth the seven weeks it took to read it. Ethnic America has some very interesting insights. Sowell analyzes several ethnic groups (Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Italian, African, Mexican, Puerto Rican, German, Jews--each group gets its own chapter) that have immigrated to the United States at various times. He discusses their background in their homeland and reasons for emigrating, how they fared and what It always seems like an accomplishment when I finish a non-fiction book, but this one was well worth the seven weeks it took to read it. Ethnic America has some very interesting insights. Sowell analyzes several ethnic groups (Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Italian, African, Mexican, Puerto Rican, German, Jews--each group gets its own chapter) that have immigrated to the United States at various times. He discusses their background in their homeland and reasons for emigrating, how they fared and what their occupations were once they came here, and how their children, and then grandchildren, fared. If you want to understand issues like immigration, discrimination, and affirmative action better, this is a good read. It was written in the 1980s, so it is a little out of date, but I was still able to learn a lot from it. Here are some of the things that stuck out to me as I was reading: (I think this was meant to be Sowell's thesis, although he didn't do a great job of making it clear.) When we see inequality of income when comparing different ethnic groups, our society tends to immediately point to racism and discrimination as the cause. But often the differences have more to do with factors like the region the ethnic group tends to live in, cultural differences, or average age of the ethnic group--and people who point this out are discounted and called racists! For example, if you look at national averages, African Americans have lower incomes than the national average. But if you compare incomes in specific regions, African American incomes are similar to those of others in the same region. Sowell says that African American incomes are lower than the national average because they are concentrated in the South, where income is lower for most people than the national average. So they have lower incomes because they live in a poorer region, and not necessarily because of discrimination. It's rather unfortunate that the default is to point to racism because it can prevent the real problem from being addressed, and it creates contention unnecessarily. Most of the immigrant groups had a difficult time at first. The incomes of the first generation tended to be low, and often they had bad living conditions. The second generation tended to do a little better, and by the third or fourth generation most groups seem to have reached the national average for income. When children were allowed and encouraged to attend public school, it was beneficial for the immigrants because the children learned English and American customs and policies there, and were therefore able to help their parents to become more acculturated as well. The Chinese had a very difficult time because there were so many single men or men who had left their families behind in China, and then immigration policies prevented more Chinese from coming to the United States, which meant that for a long time there was no second generation to help the first generation immigrants adjust to American culture. It seems to me that it is worth it to invest in helping immigrants become acculturated, especially to help them learn English and teach their children. In the past, policies that have discriminated against immigrant groups (for example, the Chinese) prevented them from adjusting and thriving in the United States, which led to disease and violence. In the long run, helping them adjust is less costly because they can then contribute to our society. I think it is important for the United States to enable people to immigrate here legally. Right now the process for doing so is very difficult, and nearly impossible for people who are poor and barely literate (Ryan's advisor from Germany said it was easier to apply to graduate school than it was to apply for a green card--and if that's what a professor thinks, how easy do you think it is for someone with very little education?). Yes, initially it can be a little costly because of ESL programs and such, but in general the ethnic groups that Sowell talked about adjusted to American life with in a couple of generations, and mainly this was accomplished through their own hard work and the things their children learned in public school. We also benefit from the influence of other cultures. For example, one of the most important contributions that the Germans made was to show other [very Puritanical] Americans that there is no harm in good, clean fun. They came with a love of sports, music, dancing, and other entertainment and helped other Americans to enjoy that too. I think we would be a very different place without that influence. Conditions in the immigrants' country of origin played a huge role in how they lived after coming to the United States. The Irish had been suppressed by England for so long that they learned how to develop their own groups to support different causes, which is why they were so good at building up the political machines in the United States. The Italians were suppressed too, but it was different because they lived in small villages that were basically run by one rich person who could do whatever he wanted to the poor villagers, so the Italians learned to be most loyal to their family and close friends, which meant that in the United States they weren't as inclined to start larger groups for Italians in general as the Irish had been. Both the Irish and Italians lacked a desire to "go the extra mile" because in their country of origin it could actually do more harm than good to work harder than you had to, which in some ways inhibited their ability in the United States to move upward. Cultural characteristics like these could persist for several generations.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This book was a fascinating history of the different ethnicities that make up the American landscape. This book traces back the cultural differences to their home countries and makes correlations to their triumphs and tribulations when adjusting to American life. Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite authors on subjects like this. His writing style makes the material easy to understand. I found this book to be on par with the rest of his body of work. What was the most interesting for me was readin This book was a fascinating history of the different ethnicities that make up the American landscape. This book traces back the cultural differences to their home countries and makes correlations to their triumphs and tribulations when adjusting to American life. Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite authors on subjects like this. His writing style makes the material easy to understand. I found this book to be on par with the rest of his body of work. What was the most interesting for me was reading this book thirty plus years after it's writing and seeing what changes that time has brought. If you like reading about the histories of different cultures, this is a good book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adam Morva

    The book examines the origins, past and present of a handful of larger ethnic groups in America. Although these facts and conclusions are local to the United States, one might derive some interesting and universal conclusions about topics such as culture, society, immigration, integration, subcultures, economics, education, politics, racism, tribalism, affirmative action, and so on. Following the differing contemporary status of groups who were in a similar situation generations ago leads to a hi The book examines the origins, past and present of a handful of larger ethnic groups in America. Although these facts and conclusions are local to the United States, one might derive some interesting and universal conclusions about topics such as culture, society, immigration, integration, subcultures, economics, education, politics, racism, tribalism, affirmative action, and so on. Following the differing contemporary status of groups who were in a similar situation generations ago leads to a higher ground from which the image of today's political slogans and zeitgeist look vastly different.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    This is a well researched, exceptionally written book in terms I can understand. I do believe most readers will also find it fascinating and mind opening. To me, this book validates my belief that no one knows who will or will not "succeed," who is or is not "worthy" to be allowed entry into the U.S. All of us, all of our backgrounds and ancestors have contributed to America. Some more then others, some have been NOTICED more then others. Everyone plays a part. Ethnic America dovetails with anothe This is a well researched, exceptionally written book in terms I can understand. I do believe most readers will also find it fascinating and mind opening. To me, this book validates my belief that no one knows who will or will not "succeed," who is or is not "worthy" to be allowed entry into the U.S. All of us, all of our backgrounds and ancestors have contributed to America. Some more then others, some have been NOTICED more then others. Everyone plays a part. Ethnic America dovetails with another favorite of mine, " The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor" by William Easterly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lakin Hall

    What an interesting topic. This book, from 1983, is incredibly relevant to our critical race theory culture of 2021 America. The most interesting parts of this book are the unique histories of each immigrant group to the US. Using straight up data, Thomas Sowell proves the fact that no one wants to face: past (or present) bigotry is not causal for modern failure. He shows instead that we have responsibility for patterns of behavior in our communities: “Every human being is born into a world he n What an interesting topic. This book, from 1983, is incredibly relevant to our critical race theory culture of 2021 America. The most interesting parts of this book are the unique histories of each immigrant group to the US. Using straight up data, Thomas Sowell proves the fact that no one wants to face: past (or present) bigotry is not causal for modern failure. He shows instead that we have responsibility for patterns of behavior in our communities: “Every human being is born into a world he never made, regardless of what ethnic label he carries.” Individual liberty, upward mobility, ethnic identity, that’s what makes America great.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zhijing Jin

    This book compiles many facts about different ethnic groups in the US. Very, very, very helpful. Important facts: 1) There is no majority 15% British 13% German 11% black 2) Don't ignore the land area - Texas is larger than France - Colorado is larger than the UK - Italy equals 2/3 of California 3) Large difference across groups - Mexican & Porto Rico: average <20 years old - Ireland & Italy: ~30 years old - Jew: >40 years old - Not to mention income, occupation, unemployment rate, crime rate, birth rate. Inco This book compiles many facts about different ethnic groups in the US. Very, very, very helpful. Important facts: 1) There is no majority 15% British 13% German 11% black 2) Don't ignore the land area - Texas is larger than France - Colorado is larger than the UK - Italy equals 2/3 of California 3) Large difference across groups - Mexican & Porto Rico: average <20 years old - Ireland & Italy: ~30 years old - Jew: >40 years old - Not to mention income, occupation, unemployment rate, crime rate, birth rate. Income - Jew: 172% - Japanese: 132% - Mexican: 76% - Perto Rico: 63% - Black: 62% - Native Indian: 60%

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jason Bailey

    I cannot recommend this book more highly! Thomas Sowell's presentation is filled with a lot of thought provoking research that gives some much needed perspective. His analysis centers on exploring the various similarities and differences among ethnic groups that have come together and are ever in the process of coming together in the melting-pot that is America. This is a fantastic reminder of the importance of knowing history as well as learning more about the various peoples who, as one nation I cannot recommend this book more highly! Thomas Sowell's presentation is filled with a lot of thought provoking research that gives some much needed perspective. His analysis centers on exploring the various similarities and differences among ethnic groups that have come together and are ever in the process of coming together in the melting-pot that is America. This is a fantastic reminder of the importance of knowing history as well as learning more about the various peoples who, as one nation, truly help make America great!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...