American Passage: The History of Ellis Island

Overview

For most of New York's early history, Ellis Island had been an obscure little island that barely held itself above high tide. Today the small island stands alongside Plymouth Rock in our nation's founding mythology as the place where many of our ancestors first touched American soil. Ellis Island's heyday—from 1892 to 1924—coincided with one of the greatest mass movements of individuals the world has ever seen, with some twelve million immigrants inspected at its gates. In American Passage, Vincent J. Cannato ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$22.58
BN.com price
(Save 19%)$27.99 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (64) from $1.99   
  • New (16) from $2.60   
  • Used (48) from $1.99   
American Passage: The History of Ellis Island

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

For most of New York's early history, Ellis Island had been an obscure little island that barely held itself above high tide. Today the small island stands alongside Plymouth Rock in our nation's founding mythology as the place where many of our ancestors first touched American soil. Ellis Island's heyday—from 1892 to 1924—coincided with one of the greatest mass movements of individuals the world has ever seen, with some twelve million immigrants inspected at its gates. In American Passage, Vincent J. Cannato masterfully illuminates the story of Ellis Island from the days when it hosted pirate hangings witnessed by thousands of New Yorkers in the nineteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century when massive migrations sparked fierce debate and hopeful new immigrants often encountered corruption, harsh conditions, and political scheming.

American Passage captures a time and a place unparalleled in American immigration and history, and articulates the dramatic and bittersweet accounts of the immigrants, officials, interpreters, and social reformers who all play an important role in Ellis Island's chronicle. Cannato traces the politics, prejudices, and ideologies that surrounded the great immigration debate, to the shift from immigration to detention of aliens during World War II and the Cold War, all the way to the rebirth of the island as a national monument. Long after Ellis Island ceased to be the nation's preeminent immigrant inspection station, the debates that once swirled around it are still relevant to Americans a century later.

In this sweeping, often heart-wrenching epic, Cannato reveals that the history of Ellis Island isultimately the story of what it means to be an American.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
Cannato…has written a popular rather than scholarly history of Ellis Island, but he resists the temptation to sentimentalize the place. He understands that, now as then, immigration is an issue that leaves Americans uncomfortable and contentious, even as it continues to bring new blood and energy into the country. Ellis Island may have been converted into something of a feel-good theme park, but the questions it raises remain unresolved.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal

Using a variety of primary sources, Cannato (The Ungovernable City) describes Ellis Island as a place and as an experience for the approximately 12 million immigrants who passed through it from 1892 to 1924. He follows its reincarnation as a detention center for wartime aliens and as a monument and museum, which he admits may celebrate uncritically "ethnic triumphalism" and upward mobility. Cannato writes that understaffing resulted in only perfunctory screening for mental, physical, and moral traits that might have made newcomers public charges, and he disabuses readers of the fallacy that examiners, rather than steamship officials or immigrants bent on assimilation, changed entrants' last names. With a focus on how "actual people created, interpreted, and executed immigration laws," Cannato maintains that regulation, which sometimes degraded into restriction, formed part of Progressive era reform and growing federal involvement to safeguard what was deemed the public interest. This measured book helps to place in perspective discussions-sure to matter to genealogists and those engaged in political discourse-of Ellis Island and the idea of immigration as a privilege rather than a right. Essential reading.
—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr.

Kirkus Reviews
A sweeping history of "the place where the United States worked out its extraordinary national debate over immigration for over three decades."Approximately 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1924, writes Cannato (History/Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston; The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle to Save New York, 2001). The last immigrant was processed there in 1954, and Ellis Island is now a national monument. The author reaches back to the island's beginnings in the early 19th century, when, then named Gibbet Island, it served as a venue for hanging convicted pirates. Cannato then chronicles the many different people-immigrants, immigration officials, politicians and others-who made Ellis Island what it was in the early 20th century, delving into the stories of several important individuals lost to mainstream history. These include Prescott Farnsworth Hall, founder of the 19th-century Immigration Restriction League, and Louis Post, who, as acting Secretary of Labor in 1920, prevented the deportation of several individuals during an early Red Scare. Cannato also addresses the long-lasting political debate over immigration in the United States, which was often rooted in economic concerns, particularly during the Depression. In one fascinating section, the author looks at two contradictory 1892 reports, commissioned by Benjamin Harrison's administration, on the plight of Russian Jewish immigrants. One report discussed in detail how the immigrants came to America to flee brutal persecution, while another claimed they were simply paupers and criminals scheming to take jobs away from "native-born" workingmen. Indeed, such bigotry is an unfortunatelycommon theme. Cannato describes an 1896 editorial cartoon that shows the xenophobia that faced new arrivals-a crude sketch of a sickly immigrant carrying baggage marked "Poverty," "Disease," "Superstition" and "Anarchy." Telling details illuminate the vastness of the immigrant experience. So many people came through Ellis Island in 1906, for example, that "it witnessed 327 deaths, 18 births, 2 suicides, and 508 marriages."Ambitious in scope and rooted in solid storytelling.
The New York Post
“Cannato does a masterful job of weaving together a slew of singular immigrant stories with the larger issues that surrounded newcomers. He gives us the politics, the health scares and epidemics, the crowding, the corruption and the public policy.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Cannato’s writing is vivid and accessible, and his approach is admirably even-handed.”
USA Today
“Historian Vincent Cannato appears to have overlooked nothing in telling the tale of the historic island, now a national monument. . . . Cannato is not only a meticulous researcher and historian, he’s also a lively storyteller. A rare combination.”
Associated Press
“Cannato navigates the crosscurrents of immigration since the 1700s, illustrating his tale generously with odd facts and highly readable stories.”
Associated Press Staff
“Cannato navigates the crosscurrents of immigration since the 1700s, illustrating his tale generously with odd facts and highly readable stories.”
Walter Isaacson
“The story of America is one of immigration. By bringing us the inspiring and sometimes unsettling tales of Ellis Island, Vincent Cannato’s American Passage helps us understand who we are as a nation.”
Douglas Brinkley
“Reading Vincent Cannato’s American Passage was an amazing journey into our nation’s immigrant past. Never before has Ellis Island been written about with such scholarly care and historical wisdom. Highly recommended!”
Jay Winik
“Immigration has long been a critical slice of the American narrative, and here, in American Passage, Vincent Cannato tells its story with great brio. From landing point to national Monument, from immigrants to interpreters, we see the veritable Babel of Ellis Island play out across the years.”
Walter A. McDougall
“To his great credit Cannato does not pretend to answer our tough questions about immigration, nor to find a ‘usable past’ in the history of Ellis Island. He just tells one heck of a story that oozes with relevance.”
Kenneth T. Jackson
“Although Ellis Island is about immigrants from far-away places, it is in fact as American as Thanksgiving and apple pie. This amazing story is recounted beautifully in Vincent Cannato’s well-written and evocative book, which will bring pleasure and profit to readers.”
Jonathan Yardley
“Cannato resists the temptation to setimentalize Ellis Island. He understands that, now as then, immigration is an issue that leaves Americans uncomfortable and contentious, even as it continues to bring new blood and energy into the country.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060742737
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 385,255
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Vincent J. Cannato teaches history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle to Save New York and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2009

    A spectacular story!

    Cannato's narrative gives voice to the myriad thousands who passed through Ellis Island's gate. Well researched and written. A necessary book for readers interested in immigration study or American history.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

    A very informative book

    This is a very informative read. Everything I had heard about regarding Ellis Island really wasn't true, this books set the record straight. A must read for anyone tracing their ancestry or seeking an enlightened view of life when our families or origin landed.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2009

    Great history account of a very significant American Era

    Written very well; very factual; interesting for people who want to know how the past influences today!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very Good Book

    I bought this book for my Father, he is from New York and found it to be a very interesting book, with details he had never heard about. He enjoyed it and so did my Mother, who read it after he did. He still talks about it and brings up interesting facts every now and then. He is hard to buy books for because he reads all the time (he is 89 years young) my sister always seems to get the right books but this is the first time I have gotten one that he really liked and will read again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)