A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America
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A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America

by Ronald Takaki
     
 

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A longtime professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, Ronald Takaki was recognized as one of the foremost scholars of American ethnic history and diversity. When the first edition of A Different Mirror was published in 1993, Publishers Weekly called it "a brilliant revisionist history

Overview

A longtime professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, Ronald Takaki was recognized as one of the foremost scholars of American ethnic history and diversity. When the first edition of A Different Mirror was published in 1993, Publishers Weekly called it "a brilliant revisionist history of America that is likely to become a classic of multicultural studies" and named it one of the ten best books of the year. Now Rebecca Stefoff, who adapted Howard Zinn's best-selling A People's History of the United States for younger readers, turns the updated 2008 edition of Takaki's multicultural masterwork into A Different Mirror for Young People.

Drawing on Takaki's vast array of primary sources, and staying true to his own words whenever possible, A Different Mirror for Young People brings ethnic history alive through the words of people, including teenagers, who recorded their experiences in letters, diaries, and poems. Like Zinn's A People's History, Takaki's A Different Mirror offers a rich and rewarding "people's view" perspective on the American story.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This 375-page book would be an excellent way to include multi-ethnic materials in the classroom as a way to ensure that your students see their unique identities reflected in their coursework.”
Skipping Stones

“This is a great introduction to Takaki’s path-breaking scholarship.”
Good 

School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—This established adult classic of multiculturalism has been pared down for a younger audience. Stefoff, who previously adapted Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States (Longman, 1980), takes a crack at Takaki's look at America and its people. Focusing on a variety of groups-Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Africans, Irish, Mexicans, Afghans, Vietnamese, and more-this volume tells America's story through the millions of people who came here seeking the Land of Opportunity only to find low wages, pitiable living conditions, and bigotry at every turn. Yet Takaki keeps bitterness at bay, writing with hope and conviction about the many opportunities for young Americans to make change in a country where, soon enough, "we all will be minorities." Stefoff adds a few nice touches-the short stories of individuals ending each chapter definitely make the content more relatable-but many young people would be better off sticking with Takaki's original text.—Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A classic framing of this country's history from a multicultural perspective, clumsily cut and recast into more simplified language for young readers. Veering away from the standard "Master Narrative" to tell "the story of a nation peopled by the world," the violence- and injustice-laden account focuses on minorities, from African- Americans ("the central minority throughout our country's history"), Mexicans and Native Americans to Japanese, Vietnamese, Sikh, Russian Jewish and Muslim immigrants. Stefoff reduces Takaki's scholarly but fluid narrative (1993, revised 2008) to choppy sentences and sound-bite quotes. She also adds debatable generalizations, such as a sweeping claim that Native Americans "lived outside of white society's borders," and an incorrect one that the Emancipation Proclamation "freed the slaves." Readers may take a stronger interest in their own cultural heritage from this broad picture of the United States as, historically, a tapestry of ethnic identities that are "separate but also shared"--but being more readable and, by page count at least, only about a third longer, the original version won't be out of reach of much of the intended audience, despite its denser prose. In either iteration, a provocative counter to conventional, blinkered views of our national story. (endnotes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)
VOYA - Kate Conklin
An adapted version of Ronald Takaki's work, A Different Mirror (Little, Brown, 1993), this history of minorities in the United States is accessible to a younger crowd. It chronicles the effects of Protestant, Western-European culture on the Native Americans that were already occupying North America and the struggle to hold on to cultural identity. Takaki provides a detailed look at the Africans brought to the country to work on plantations, and the post-abolition civil rights movement. The white Irish Catholics who struggled for acceptance based on religious differences are a group that readers may not be aware was previously a minority. Stories about numerous Jewish, Asian, and Latino individuals who worked to knit themselves into the fabric of American life will help students to see themselves and their ancestors as a part of history. The well-rounded topics give a better picture of the so-called "melting pot," and a glimpse into the future of the United States, where every cultural and ethnic group is projected to become a minority. While the depth of research and scope of this nonfiction narrative is admirable, teens are unlikely to choose this as independent reading. Teachers may find it useful for teaching an expanded, more complete picture of the history of the United States. It is likely that the easy-to-read, conversational text will be a refreshing change from more challenging textbooks. A Different Mirror For Young People's most appropriate role will be in classrooms as a supplement to curricular materials. Reviewer: Kate Conklin

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609804169
Publisher:
Seven Stories Press
Publication date:
10/16/2012
Series:
For Young People Series
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
324,820
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 7.82(h) x 1.01(d)
Lexile:
1120L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Introduction
 
My Story, Our Story
 
I was going to be a surfer, not a scholar.
 
I was born and grew up in Hawaii, the son of a Japanese immigrant father and a Japanese-American mother who had been born on a sugarcane plantation. We lived in a working-class neighborhood where my playmates were Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, and Hawaiian. We did not use the word multicultural, but that’s what we were: a community of people from many cultural, national, and racial backgrounds.
 
My father died when I was five, and my mother remarried a Chinese cook. She had gone to school only through the eighth grade, and my stepfather had very little education, but they were determined to give me a chance to go to college. My passion as a teenager, though, was surfing. My nickname was “Ten Toes Takaki,” and when I sat on my board and gazed at rainbows over the mountains and the spectacular sunsets over the Pacific, I wanted to be a surfer forever.
 
Then, during my senior year in high school, a teacher inspired me to think about the problems of the world and of being human and to ask, “How do you know what you know?” In other words, how do you know if something is true? The same teacher inspired me to attend college outside Hawaii, which is how I found myself at the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1957.
 
College was a culture shock for me. The student body was not very diverse, and my fellow students asked me, “How long have you been in this country? Where did you learn to speak English?” To them, I did not look like an American or have an American-sounding name. When I fell in love with one of those students, Carol Rankin, she told me that her parents would never approve of our relationship, because of my race.
 
Carol was right. Her parents were furious. Still, we decided to do what was right for us. When we got married, her parents reluctantly attended. Four years later, when our first child was born, her parents came to visit us in California. After I said, “Let me help you with the luggage, Mr. Rankin,” Carol’s father replied, “You can call me Dad.” His racist attitudes, it turned out, were not frozen. He had changed.
 
By that time I was working on my Ph.D. degree in American history. I became a college professor at the University of California in Los Angeles and taught the school’s first course in African American history. In 1971, I moved to the University of California at Berkeley to teach in a new Department of Ethnic Studies. In the decades that followed, I developed courses and degree programs in comparative ethnic studies, and I wrote several books about America’s multicultural history. My extended family, too, became a multicultural, mixed-race group that now includes people of Japanese, Vietnamese, English, Chinese, Taiwanese, Jewish, and Mexican heritage.
 
I have come to see that my story reflects the story of multicultural America—a story of disappointments and dreams, struggles and triumphs, and identities that are separate but also shared. We must remember the histories of every group, for together they tell the story of a nation peopled by the world. As the time approaches when all Americans will be minorities, we face a challenge: not just to understand the world, but to make it better. A Different Mirror studies the past for the sake of the future.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“This 375-page book would be an excellent way to include multi-ethnic materials in the classroom as a way to ensure that your students see their unique identities reflected in their coursework.”
Skipping Stones

“This is a great introduction to Takaki’s path-breaking scholarship.”
Good 

Meet the Author

RONALD TAKAKI (1939-2009) was recognized as one of the foremost scholars of American ethnic history and diversity. He is the author of the multiple award-winning books Strangers from a Distant Shore: A History of Asian Americans and A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.

REBECCA STEFOFF specializes in writing nonfiction for young readers, with a focus on scientific, historical, and literary subjects. She previously explored the subject of evolution in Charles Darwin and the Evolution Revolution(Oxford University Press, 1996) and the four-volume series Humans: An Evolutionary History (Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2010). Stefoff has also written on exploration, forensic investigation, and archaeology, among other topics. In addition to writing her own books, Stefoff has adapted several important nonfiction works for young audiences: A Young People's History of the United States, based on Howard Zinn's bestselling classic of progressive history; Before Columbus: The Americas in 1491, based on Charles C. Mann's ground-breaking new look at the archaeology of the pre-Columbian Americas; and A Different Mirror for Young People, based on a major work of scholarship by ethnic historian Ronald Takaki.

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