The Columbia Guide to Asian American History

Gary Y. Okihiro

Columbia University Press

The Columbia Guide to Asian American History

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Pub Date: March 2005

ISBN: 9780231115117

352 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $34.00£29.00

Pub Date: November 2001

ISBN: 9780231115100

352 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $95.00£79.00

Pub Date: March 2005

ISBN: 9780231505956

352 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $33.99£29.00

The Columbia Guide to Asian American History

Gary Y. Okihiro

Columbia University Press

Offering a rich and insightful road map of Asian American history as it has evolved over more than 200 years, this book marks the first systematic attempt to take stock of this field of study. It examines, comments, and questions the changing assumptions and contexts underlying the experiences and contributions of an incredibly diverse population of Americans. Arriving and settling in this nation as early as the 1790s, with American-born generations stretching back more than a century, Asian Americans have become an integral part of the American experience; this cleverly organized book marks the trajectory of that journey, offering researchers invaluable information and interpretation.

• Part 1 offers a synoptic narrative history, a chronology, and a set of periodizations that reflect different ways of constructing the Asian American past.

• Part 2 presents lucid discussions of historical debates—such as interpreting the anti-Chinese movement of the late 1800s and the underlying causes of Japanese American internment during World War II—and such emerging themes as transnationalism and women and gender issues.

• Part 3 contains a historiographical essay and a wide-ranging compilation of book, film, and electronic resources for further study of core themes and groups, including Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hmong, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, and others.

The field of Asian American studies has grown rapidly, with a corresponding increase in the number of publications on Asian American history. Respected pioneer in Asian American studies Okihiro is well suited for his task of offering a convenient introduction to the bourgeoning literature.... This is a stimulating and helpful guide to contemporary scholarship in Asian American history.


This work is a mine of valuable information particularly for teachers and students but also for anyone interested in the burgeoning field of Asian American studies.... Among the many strengths of the book are a concise narrative history, an excellent summary of historical debates covering contentious topics such as the reasons for migration to the United States, the anti-Chinese movement during the nineteenth century, and America's concentration camps during the Second World War.


A compelling survey of 200 years of Asian-American experience and of its scholarly treatment.

Publishers Weekly

The publication of this work reminds us that the field of Asian American history has come a long way since the days of those who wrote in the vein of Orientalism.... Gary Y. Okihiro's book surveys this voluminous literature, offering the reader a thorough introduction to the origins, development, and debates in this field of inquiry.... Okihiro's book is a useful reference work, which scholars, students, and maybe even the general public would rely on to discover the parameters of this field. The volume invites all readers to reflect on Okihiro's subtext that Asian American history is 'an account of America's past.'

Benson Tong, The Historian

This book is exactly what the title says it is, a guide—something with which to orient yourself.... What it is emphatically not is dogmatic, one-sided or campaigning. As such it's likely to prove useful as a general introduction, and particularly as a work of reference.

Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times

Examines attitudes toward resident Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States over the past 200 years. Specific focuses include Hawaii before European contact, the anti-Chinese movement in 19th-century California and the World War II internment camps for Japanese-Americans. An extensive historiography and resource guide make this an excellent research tool.

Association of College & Research Libraries

Asian American Studies guru captures 200 years of APA history

a Magazine: Inside Asian America

A choice, concise guide... The Columbia Guide to Asian American History is a recommended pick.

Library Bookwatch

A comprehensive and well-organized guide to scholarship and, moreover, includes a lucid narrative and assessment of the major historical debates in the field. It will prove an invaluable reference tool to specialists in Asian American history as well as to students and teachers in American studies in general.

Mari Jo Buhle, Brown University

Comprehensive, wide-ranging, and authoritative, Gary Y. Okihiro's work offers a superbly well-informed appraisal of the development of the field of Asian American history, its current status, and the new directions in which it is moving. The book will be indispensable for scholars and students in all fields of American history, for as Okihiro amply demonstrates: 'Asian American history is an account of America's past. It is America writ large.'

Richard Polenberg, Goldwin Smith Professor of American History, Cornell University

A monumental achievement! Gary Okihiro has made a major contribution to the exciting field of Asian-American Studies. In graceful, readable prose, with a confident mastery of the relevant scholarship, he offers a narrative overview, a thoughtful exploration of contested interpretive issues, a survey of emerging themes, and a guide to the historical sources. This invaluable work illuminates the experience of Asian and Pacific Island groups that are central to America's past, present—and future. This is American history at its newest and best.

Paul Boyer, Editor in Chief, The Oxford Companion to United States History

An indispensable resource—the one book that everyone who reads, teaches, or writes Asian American history will turn to first for its insights, analyses, overviews, and guides to resources. Okihiro captures the dynamism of the field brilliantly by highlighting long standing debates and emerging themes as well as the cumulative consensus that has emerged from the by-now large body of research produced by historians of Asian America. Comprehensive and complete in its coverage of Asian America, this volume also distinguishes itself as a sensitive and self-reflexive rumination about the general processes of the historian's craft.

George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment In Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics

Okihiro's seminal Columbia Guide to Asian American History provides an unparalleled collection of narrative and historiographical essays and a sweeping bibliography... this volume will be a treasure trove for scholars seeking to probe changing notions of what it means to be 'American' or understand interactions between East Asia and the United States over the past two hundred years.

David Capie, Pacific Affairs
Part 1: Narrative Overview
1. Narrative History
2. Periodization
Part 2: Historical Debates
1. Hawaii's Population Before European Contact
2. Hawaiians and Captain James Cook
3. Migration
4. The Anti-Chinese Movement
5. America's Concentration Camps
Part 3: Emerging Themes
1. Space
2. Women and Gender
3. The Law
4. Japanese American Resistance
Part 4: Chronology
Part 5: Historiography and Resources
1. Historiography
2. Resources

About the Author

Gary Y. Okihiro is director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University. The recipient of the American Studies Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and a past president of the Association for Asian American Studies, he is the author of many books, including Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American History and Culture (Outstanding Book, Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America).