Book Review: Immigration And Migration

Immigration And Migration (The Story Of America) by Greg Roza

It is interesting to ponder the relationship between immigration and migration and both to the history of the United States.  To the extent that the United States is a successor state to various settler colonies, it was formed through the solving of England’s internal problems (and the internal stresses of other nations like Czarist Russia and various German states and even Italy) through the settlement of land that was far more sparsely populated than Europe was.  Even the original settlement of North America was done by a migrant population of peoples from Asia, making it rather obvious that everyone is a migrant here, even if some have been around a bit longer than others.  There are sensible ways for this to be well-understood, because the point has a high degree of political importance.  The continuing migration of tribes not always under coercion from European-American settlers but for other reasons also presents complexity as to the legitimacy of tribes to various parts of land given their own recent status there, such as the Sioux in the Dakotas, and their having dispossessed other peoples, like the Mandan of the Missouri River area.  This book, quite understandably, does not discuss matters.

This book is a short one at just about 32 pages.  It begins with a discussion on the relationship between migration and immigration as the movement of populations and comments on the early migrations of “native” peoples into North America.  After that there is a look at the United States as a growing nation as well as the mass migration that was involved in this.  The author explores manifest destiny as well as the paths west for various tribes who were removed from their homes for the sake of the plantation economy of the South.  After that there is a discussion of the Civil War as well as the flood of immigrants that came from eastern and southern Europe as well as China in the period of the late 19th and early 20th century and the fears that this led to.  The author then explores immigration in the 20th century and beyond, which has moved of course to different areas (especially Mexico and Central America), and which still attracts a great deal of hostile political attention.  The book then ends with a glossary, suggestions for further reading, as well as an index, making this a short book about a complex subject.

It is interesting to see immigration and migration be a subject that so many people are interested in writing about with young people as an audience.  It is hard to tell whether this is driven by the desire to inculcate in children a certain idea about migration and immigration being a good thing, given that it is a subject of populist dislike but elite appreciation and has been for some time.  It is hard to know if younger readers are actually interested in this subject yourself or if a book like this is made so that it can be pushed on children so as to (mis)inform them about the issues and about the legacy of immigration and migration and the complex response this has taken.  It is hard to be consistent and not self-serving on a matter like this, because a nation where everyone in the nation or has ever been in the nation is a migrant or the descendant of migrants nevertheless does not have to appreciate every movement of population without criticism.  There is a lot about migration that is worthy of criticism, but it is not easy to know where to draw the line or what standards to enforce or what appreciation to show in such contentious matters.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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