Reading List: Books by and about Refugees and Immigrants in America

Books by and about the millions of refugees and immigrants who have helped build America.

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The Mayans Among Us: Migrant Women and Meatpacking on the Great Plains by Ann L. Sittig and Martha Florinda González

“I wish this were required reading for all our politicians and policy makers. I recommend it to all who yearn to understand the America we live in today.”—Mary Pipher, author of The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community

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Where the Ashes Are: The Odyssey of a Vietnamese Family by Nguyen Qui Duc

Intertwining these three stories, Where the Ashes Are shows us the Vietnam War through a child’s eyes, privation after a Communist takeover, and the struggle of new immigrants.

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An Afghan Woman’s Odyssey by Farooka Gauhari

This first-person account typifies the kinds of human-rights violations that became common practice after the Soviet invasion and made way for the later abuses of the Taliban.

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Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and a Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other by Caryn Mirriam Goldberg

“It is a very American story of survival, new beginnings, hope and laughter in the face of horror, and faith in human goodness.”—David Katzman, professor emeritus of American studies, University of Kansas

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Crossing the River Kabul: An Afghan Family Odyssey (Potomac Books, June 2017) by Kevin McLean

“An exciting tale, as current today as it was in 1980 when Bar Popal and his family fled Afghanistan, Crossing the River Kabul is a harrowing adventure with life and death consequences explaining the tribulations experienced by refugees.”—John B. Alexander, former U.S. Army colonel and advisor to senior ministry officials in Kabul

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Lives and Letters of an Immigrant Family: The Van Dreveldts’ Experiences along the Missouri, 1844-1866 by Kenneth Kronenberg

The van Dreveldts’ experiences provide a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of immigrant life.

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Jon Lewis: Photographs of the California Grape Strike by Richard Steven Street

“This book simultaneously captures agricultural California’s most pressing political struggles and the vision of a major, if unrecognized, artist.”—Stephen Pitti, professor of history at Yale University and author of The Devil in Silicon Valley: Northern California, Race, and Mexican Americans

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Passages to America: Oral Histories of Child Immigrants from Ellis Island and Angel Island by Emmy Werner

These personal narratives offer unique perspectives on the psychological experience of being an immigrant child and its impact on later development and well-being.

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Curious Unions: Mexican American Workers and Resistance in Oxnard, California, 1898-1961 by Frank P. Barajas
Frank P. Barajas examines how the Oxnard, California, ethnic Mexican population exercised its agency in alliance with other groups and organizations to meet their needs before large-scale protests and labor unions were engaged.
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Getting Immigration Right: What Every American Needs to Know edited by David Coates & Peter Siavelis
“Collectively, the essays point to the urgent need to modernize our policies in a way that moves beyond simplistic slogans to confronting complex realities.”—Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice