Chinese American history is full of stories that detail the often forgotten, yet tremendous suffering and endurance of Chinese immigrants. We compiled a list of must-read books from key time periods on Chinese American history. If you want to get woke on Chinese American history, you have to start with these summer reads.
1 Pre-Exclusion Era (1850-1882)
The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America by Beth Lew-Williams
Under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese laborers became the first group of people banned from entering the U.S. on the basis of race and class.
Lew-Williams seamlessly weaves together agonizing accounts of anti-Chinese violence and campaigns at the local and national levels. These accounts occur during the decades leading up to the act.
She argues that racial violence and vigilantism prompted stricter immigration control and new exclusionary policies. In return, the policies incited greater violence and constructed the concept of the “alien” in modern U.S. history.