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America for Americans

America for Americans

A History of Xenophobia in the United States

An award-winning historian reframes our continuing debate over immigration with a compelling history of xenophobia in the United States and its devastating impact

The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their “strange and foreign ways.” Americans’ anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America.

Forcing us to confront this history, America for Americans explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America. It is a necessary corrective and spur to action for any concerned citizen.
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Genre: Nonfiction / History / United States

On Sale: November 26th 2019

Price: $18.99 / $23.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 432

ISBN-13: 9781541672598

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"Erika Lee's America for Americans is an insightful, thought-provoking book that helps us understand why the United States, a 'nation of immigrants,' could be the home to such longstanding and powerful anti-immigrant movements. Anyone who wants to fully understand why Americans are so divided over border walls, asylum policy, and sanctuary cities must read this outstanding book."—Tyler Anbinder, author of City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York
"As Erika Lee brilliantly shows, xenophobia has forever been an integral part of American racism. Forcing us to confront this history as we confront its present, America for Americans is essential reading for anyone who wants to build a more inclusive society."—Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning
"America for Americans is an intellectual tour de force wrapped in a vibrant, accessible narrative. Erika Lee reveals how hostility toward foreigners has profoundly influenced popular imagination and public policy, beginning with agitation over German settlers in early America. The exclusionist rhetoric, practices, and policies so prevalent today are nothing new, but echo back centuries of marking the boundaries of belonging. A timely, eloquent meditation on immigration, Lee's book demonstrates why history matters in understanding the contemporary resurgence of xenophobia and makes plain its shameful consequences (past and present) for individuals and the nation."—Vicki L. Ruiz, author of From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America
"A 'nation of immigrants,' America badly needs a history of xenophobia, and in America for Americans, Erika Lee delivers. By distinguishing nativism from xenophobia, she shows how Native Americans and Africans were transformed into foreigners and how that xenophobia fueled racist attacks against immigrants. Neither natural nor inevitable, xenophobia is always promoted by those who benefit from it, and in this courageous book, Lee names the beneficiaries."—Donna Gabaccia, emerita professor of history, University of Toronto
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