Reading Guides: Asian Pacific American Heritage

African American Literature

Suggested Titles

Chan, Sucheng / Asian Americans: An Interpretive History --- E184 .O6 C47 1991
This series presents concise histories of individual ethnic groups and their impact on American life and culture. With comprehensive examinations of the immigrant experience, it serves as a resource for both young students and experienced researchers.
Lee, Erika / The Making of Asian America: A History --- E184.A75 L43 2015
The definitive history of Asian Americans by one of the nation's preeminent scholars on the subject. In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.
Okihiro, Gary Y. / The Columbia Guide to Asian American History --- E184.O6 C64 2001
Offering a rich and insightful road map of Asian American history as it has evolved over more than 200 years, this book marks the first systematic attempt to take stock of this field of study.
Takaki, Ronald T. / Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian American --- E184 .O6 T35 1990
In an extraordinary blend of narrative history, personal recollection, and oral testimony, the author presents a sweeping history of Asian Americans. He writes of the Chinese who laid tracks for the transcontinental railroad, of plantation laborers in the canefields of Hawaii, of "picture brides" marrying strangers in the hope of becoming part of the American dream. He tells stories of Japanese Americans behind the barbed wire of U.S. internment camps during World War II, Hmong refugees tragically unable to adjust to Wisconsin's alien climate and culture, and Asian American students stigmatized by the stereotype of the "model minority." This is a powerful and moving work that will resonate for all Americans, who together make up a nation of immigrants from other shores.
Wu, Frank H. / Yellow: Race in America beyond Black and White --- E184.O6 W84 2002
In the tradition of W. E. B. Du Bois, Cornel West, and other public intellectuals who confronted the "color line" of the twentieth century, journalist, law professor, and activist Frank H. Wu offers a unique perspective on how changing ideas of racial identity will affect race relations in the new century. Often provocative and always thoughtful, this book addresses some of the most controversial contemporary issues: discrimination, immigration, diversity, globalization, and the mixed-race movement, introducing the example of Asian Americans to shed new light on the current debates.

Chinese Americans

Corbett, Christopher / The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild Wes --- E184.C5 C67 2010
During the Gold Rush, a young Chinese concubine arrived by horse in Idaho gold country, where a white gambler soon won her in a poker game. She became Polly Bemis, the winner's legal, beloved wife. Polly emerged into public view only in 1923, a tiny old woman on horseback, her identity and story known only to a few old-timers.
Fu, Ping / Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds --- E184.C5 F84 2013
In her autobiography, Ping Fu tells her story as she lived it—from child soldier and political prisoner to a CEO and "Inc." magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year.
Shen, Aisling Juanjuan / A Tiger's Heart: The Story of a Modern Chinese Woman --- E184.C5 S533 2009
A Tiger's Heart chronicles Aisling's rise from poverty in the rice fields of rural China to a successful career in business in the early days of the country's economic boom, illustrating the massive economic and social changes that have taken place in China over the past several decades. Her story is emblematic of a new generation of Chinese women who are leaving the rice paddies and government jobs in order to enter the free market and determine the course of their own lives.
Chai, May Lee / Hapa Girl: A Memoir --- F660.A1 C38 2007
In the mid-1960s, Winberg Chai, a young academic and the son of Chinese immigrants, married an Irish-American artist. In Hapa Girl ("hapa"is Hawaiian for "mixed"), their daughter tells the story of this loving family as they move from Southern California to New York to a South Dakota farm by the 1980s. In their new Midwestern home, the family finds itself the object of unwelcome attention, which swiftly escalates to violence. The Chais are suddenly socially isolated and barely able to cope with the tension that arises from daily incidents of racial animosity, including random acts of cruelty.
Pfaelzer, Jean / Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans --- F870.C5 P48 2007
Driven Out exposes a shocking story of ethnic cleansing in California and the Pacific Northwest when the first Chinese Americans were rounded up and purged from more than three hundred communities by lawless citizens and duplicitous politicians
Tian, Hao Jiang / Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met --- ML420.T49 A3 2008
Since his 1991 debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Hao Jiang Tian has appeared on the world’s greatest stages, more than 300 times at the Met alone. How he got there is a drama of bittersweet humor, mortal danger, heartbreaking tragedy, and inspiring triumph—more passionate and turbulent than even the grandest opera.

Japanese Americans

Close, Frederick Phelps / Tokyo Rose/An American Patriot: A Dual Biography --- CT275.T717 C567 2010
Explores the parallel lives of World War II legend Tokyo Rose and a Japanese American woman named Iva Toguri. Close explores Toguri's character and decisions by placing her story and conviction for treason in the context of U.S. and Japanese racial views, Imperial Japan, and Cold War politics.
Odo, Franklin / No Sword to Bury: Japanese Americans in Hawai'i during World War I --- D753.8.O36 2004
When bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese American college students were among the many young men enrolled in ROTC and called upon to defend the islands against invasion immediately after the attack. In a matter of weeks, however, the military government questioned their loyalty and disarmed them." "In No Sword to Bury, Franklin Odo places the largely untold story of the wartime experience of these young men in the context of the community created by their immigrant families and its relationship to the larger, white-dominated society.
Reeves, Richard / Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II --- D769.8.A6 R43 2015
Former Frontline journalist Reeves (Portrait of Camelot) examines the key causes and dire consequences of the Japanese-American internment in relocation camps during WWII, concentrating on a shortsighted military strategy and anti-Japanese sentiment following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Furiya, Linda / Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America --- F534.V34 F87 2006
While growing up in Versailles, an Indiana farm community, Linda Furiya tried to balance the outside world of Midwestern America with the Japanese traditions of her home life. As the only Asian family in a tiny township, Furiya's life revolved around Japanese food and the extraordinary lengths her parents went to in order to gather the ingredients needed to prepare it.

Korean Americans

Choi, Annie / Happy Birthday or Whatever: Track Suits, Kim Chee, and Other Family Disaster --- CT275.C5725 A3 2007
Meet Annie Choi. She fears cable cars and refuses to eat anything that casts a shadow. Her brother thinks chicken is a vegetable. Her father occasionally starts fires at work. Her mother collects Jesus trading cards and wears plaid like it's a job. No matter how hard Annie and her family try to understand one another, they often come up hilariously short. But in the midst of a family crisis, Annie comes to realize that the only way to survive one another is to stick together . . . as difficult as that might be. Annie Choi's Happy Birthday or Whatever is a sidesplitting, eye-opening, and transcendent tale of coping with an infuriating, demanding, but ultimately loving Korean family.
Foster, Jenny Ryun, ed. / Century of the Tiger: One Hundred Years of Korean Culture in America, 1903-2003 --- E184.K6 C36 2003
Gathered here are works by some of the best and most eloquent Korean authors in Korea and America, past and present. They tell the dramatic story of Korean culture in America over the last century and of the diverse experiences of Korean Americans today, particularly in Hawai'i.
Kim, Elizabeth / Ten Thousand Sorrows: The Extraordinary Journey of a Korean War Orphan --- E184.K6 K44 2000
As a small child in Korea, Elizabeth Kim witnessed the murder of her mother, Omma, by Omma's father and brother. Labeled an "honor killing," Omma's death was considered justified because her child, the author, was born not only out of wedlock but also of mixed race (the father was a American G.I.). Considered "less than human" by her family, Kim was sent to an orphanage where she was eventually adopted by an American Christian Fundamentalist couple. But in California, Kim's life was no less full of manipulation, racism and ostracism. It is not until, as an adult, she leaves an abusive husband and sets off to raise her own daughter that Kim is able to come to terms with herself and her past.
Kim, Ilpyong J., ed. / Korean-Americans: Past, Present, and Future --- E184.K6 K586 2004
History of Korean immigration to the US and the status of Korean-Americans at present and future. Commemorating 100 years of immigration.

Vietnamese Americans

Nguyen, Bich Minh / Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir --- CT275.N523 A3 2007
As a Vietnamese girl coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bich Nguyen is filled with a rapacious hunger for American identity. In the pre-PC era Midwest, where the devoutly Christian blond-haired, blue-eyed Jennifers and Tiffanys reign supreme, Nguyen's barely conscious desire to belong transmutes into a passion for American food. More exotic seeming than her Buddhist grandmother's traditional specialties—spring rolls, delicate pancakes stuffed with meats, herbs, and bean sprouts; fried shrimp cakes—the campy, preservative-filled "delicacies" of mainstream America capture her imagination. And in this book, the glossy branded allure of such American foods as Pringles, Kit Kats, and Toll House cookies become an ingenious metaphor for her struggle to fit in, to become a "real" American.
Chan, Sucheng ed. / The Vietnamese American 1.5 Generation: Stories of War, Revolution, Flight, and New Beginnings --- E184.V53 V55 2006
Sucheng Chan presents a history of Vietnam that enables readers to understand the larger historical, social, and political contexts within which the refugee exodus occurred between 1975 and 1997. The heart of the book consists of vivid personal testimonies written by members of the 1.5 generation of Vietnamese Americans when they were students at various campuses of the University of California. Six of the stories recall the April 1975 evacuation on U.S. military aircraft and naval vessels; nine tell tragic but ultimately triumphant tales of the "boat people" who fled by sea and were confined in refugee camps in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Hong Kong while awaiting resettlement abroad.

Other Asian/Pacific Americans

Yang, Kao Kalia / The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir --- E184.H55 Y36 2008
Presents the journey from refugee camp to America and the hardships and joys of a family's struggle to adapt in a strange culture while holding onto traditions that are passed down from her beloved grandmother.
Ung, Loung / Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind --- E184.K45 U54 2005
After enduring years of hunger, deprivation, and devastating loss at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, ten-year-old Loung Ung became the "lucky child," the sibling chosen to accompany her eldest brother to America while her one surviving sister and two brothers remained behind. In this poignant and elegiac memoir, Loung recalls her assimilation into an unfamiliar new culture while struggling to overcome dogged memories of violence and the deep scars of war. In alternating chapters, she gives voice to Chou, the beloved older sister whose life in war-torn Cambodia so easily could have been hers.

Last Updated: May 2016

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