cover image Chinese American Portraits

Chinese American Portraits

Ruthanne Lum McCunn, Chronicle Books, Ruthanne Lum McCune. Chronicle Books, $16.95 (174pp) ISBN 978-0-87701-491-1

The experience of the Chinese in America offers compelling analogies for U.S. immigrants of all backgrounds. Born in San Francisco's Chinatown, the author of Thousand Pieces of Gold notes the difference between two Chinese-English phrasebooks published in the 19th century. One volume, prepared for students, includes stock-exchange terms, Latin and French expressions and historical sketches, while the other, intended for laborers, teaches sentences for survival: ``He cheated me out of my wages'' and ``The confession was extorted from him by force.'' Black-and-white photographs from archives and family albums illustrate the simply told stories of Chinese Americansfrom Yung Wing, the first person of Chinese ancestry to graduate from an American college (Yale, 1854), to Ho Yuet Fung, an immigrant from Hong Kong to Columbia, Mo., in the 1970s. Featured here are the genuine accounts of ``women and men who have fought against the odds. They have not always won. Nor are they necessarily heroic. Being human, they have flaws. But they have refused to give up the struggleand they have endured.'' This worthwhile contribution illuminates yet another dimension of the American Dream. (Oct.)