Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America

Overview

Strangers Among Us is a lucid, informed, and cliché-shattering examination of Latino immigration to the United States--its history, the vast transformations it is fast producing in American society, and the challenges it will present for decades to come. In making vivid an array of people, places, and events that are little known to most Americans, the author--an American journalist who is himself the son of Latino immigrants--makes an often bewildering phenom-enon vastly more ...
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Overview

Strangers Among Us is a lucid, informed, and cliché-shattering examination of Latino immigration to the United States--its history, the vast transformations it is fast producing in American society, and the challenges it will present for decades to come. In making vivid an array of people, places, and events that are little known to most Americans, the author--an American journalist who is himself the son of Latino immigrants--makes an often bewildering phenom-enon vastly more understandable.
He tells the stories of a number of large Latino communities, linked in a chronological narrative that starts with the Puerto Rican migration to East Harlem in the 1950s and continues through the California-bound rush of Mexicans and Central Americans in the 1990s. He takes us into the world of Mexican-American gang members; Guatemalan Mayas in suburban Houston; Cuban businessmen in Miami; Dominican bodega owners in New York. We see people who represent a unique transnationalism and a new form of immigrant assimilation--foreigners who come from close by and visit home frequently, so that they virtually live in two lands.
Like other groups of immigrants who preceded them onto American shores, Latinos, as they begin to find a place for themselves here, are changing the way this nation thinks of itself. These are people who defy easy categorization: they are neither white nor black; their households often include both legal and illegal immigrants; most struggle toward some kind of economic stability, but so many others fall short that they have become the new face of the urban poor. Some Latinos endure the special poverty of people who work long hours for wages that barely ensure survival. Their children grow up learning more from their televisions than from their teachers, knowing what they want from America but not how to get it.
Looking to the future, we see clearly that the sheer number of Latino newcomers will force the United States to develop new means of managing relations among diverse ethnic groups and of creating economic opportunity for all. But we also see a catalog of conflict and struggle: Latinos in confrontation with blacks; Latinos wrestling with the strain of illegal immigration on their communities; Latinos fighting the backlash that is denying legal immigrants access to welfare programs. Critical both of incoherent government policies and of the failures of minority-group advocacy, the author proposes solutions of his own, including a rejection of illegal immigration by Latinos themselves paired with government efforts to deter unlawful journeys into the United States, and a new emphasis on English-language training as an aid to successful assimilation.
Roberto Suro has written a timely, controversial, and hugely illuminating book.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An elegant writer and a wise analyst, Roberto Suro has produced one of the most searching books in years on immigration and America's Latinos. It reflects an independent mind unafraid to break with orthodoxies, and the compassionate heart of a writer who is proud to be an American and proud of his Latin forebears."—E. J. Dionne

"With a welcome indifference to Mexican or American political correctness, Suro brilliantly explains how and why millions of Latin Americans immigrate to the United States. Strangers Among Us tells a sad and heroic story with the kind of insight and frankness that is usually absent in the debate on immigration in the United States."—Jorge G. Castañeda

"Roberto Suro appreciates, indeed courts, what many journalists disdain: complexity and subtlety in his analysis. He explains who Latinos are and how they're 'transforming' America, and at the same time he shows why Latino Americans, like any minority or immigrant group, defy convenient categorization."—William J. Bennett

"Roberto Suro's Strangers Among Us is a powerful antidote to the American xenophobia and racism that too often poison the well for the children and grandchildren of hardworking Latino immigrants. In this brilliant and humane book, Suro argues persuasively that our fear of these immigrants, who will be our largest ethnic minority in the coming century, is the greatest obstacle to their productive assimilation."—Victor Perera

"A really important book, full of solid research that leads to some surprising—and disturbing—conclusions. Roberto Suro knows his stuff and it shows."—Evan Thomas

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679744566
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,376,281
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Roberto Suro, the American-born son of a Puerto Rican father and an Ecuadorean mother, began his journalism career in 1974 in Chicago, where he first wrote about immigration. He was a correspondent for Time in the Middle East and a bureau chief for the New York Times in Rome and in Houston, and is now a staff writer at the Washington Post. He is the author of two Twentieth Century Fund papers on immigration: Remembering the American Dream: Hispanic Immigration and National Policy and Watching America's Door: The Immigration Backlash and the New Policy Debate. Mr. Suro lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and their two children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2007

    Misinformed

    Mr. Suro makes a fatal error when he lumps Mexicans in with Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans.First of all Mexicans for the most part are made up of Indigenous Native Peoples who have had a presence in the Americas for literally thousands of years. The Socalled Latino groups of the Caribbean are NOT. The Indigenous Original Peoples of the Caribbean, namely the Taino and the Arowaks were virtually wiped off the face of the earth by disease and genocide at the hands of the slave trading Spanish, English and to a lesser degree the Dutch and replaced by African peoples brought in by the Europeans. Mexica (me shee kah) peoples culture and language thrived from what is now Wyoming, Utah, Northern California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas a throughout Mexico and Central America to Panama. Mexicans cannot be immigrants in the ancient land of their ancestors. This is a flawed work that grossly misrepresents the role of Ancient Mexicans in the Americas.

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