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American Chinatown: A People's History…

American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods

by Bonnie Tsui

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Mostly enjoyable book about Chinatown Maybe you've gone to one on a tourist trip to San Francisco, New York, London, or any major city that has one. Maybe you've eaten fortune cookies whenever you go to a Chinese/Asian restaurant. This is the story of five different Chinatowns and the people in them.
Author Bonnie Tsui was born in New York and wanted to explore the various Chinatowns and what they meant. She travels from NY to Honolulu, Hawaii and looks at the history, culture, society and changes in Chinatown. She talks to young teenagers who are super involved with volunteering in Chinatowns to the people who fought to get recognition from the government (in Las Vegas that meant to get a sign declaring this was the Chinatown area, in San Francisco it meant getting the streets cleaned up from all the garbage), etc.
No two Chinatowns (at least the ones in this book) are alike. San Francisco is a major port from the Gold Rush. New York has many garment makers. Honolulu is a mishmash of various Asian peoples who migrated for various reasons to the West. I really wish she had included an "international" Chinatown in say Sydney, Australia or even in Nairobi, although due to cost and time it probably would not have been feasible.
I also wish she had spent more time discussing some of the changes that have occurred. For example, Chinese people left the Chinatown in San Francisco to spread out over the city. Restaurants and what not became more dispersed across various neighborhoods and the SF Chinatown is more of a tourist attraction than anything else. Tsui does talk a bit about the 2008 financial recession and its effects on the Chinatown/Asiatown in Las Vegas (which, like the city, relies heavily on tourism), but I would have loved to have seen more about it.
It's a fairly readable book. There was not as much repetition as I thought there would be, probably because the 5 Chinatowns that are featured are very unique. I enjoyed this very much and will look to see if I can find other books about other Chinatowns for comparison. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
"American Chinatown" looks at the Chinese American experience from the early days of Chinese immigration to the United States until the present day. The lens for this exploration are the stories of residents and visitors to five Chinatowns: San Francisco; New York; Los Angeles; Hawaii; and Las Vegas.

I enjoyed this book, but author Bonnie Tsui is wrangling so much material that the story lines can seem disjointed and herky-jerky. That said, "American Chinatown" presented perspectives I'd never considered -- and I've read a lot of Chinatown history.

I'd recommend for those interested in learning more about the life of cities, the history of the Chinese in America, and/or American history. ( )
  ElizabethChapman | Oct 25, 2009 |
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Tsui offers a unique full-access pass to America's most famous Chinatowns--New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Las Vegas--revealing a captivating world-within-a-world. b&w photos throughout.

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