01 April 2014

Angel Island: Gateway To Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (January 7, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547903781


Angel Island, off the coast of California, was the port of entry for Asian immigrants to the United States between 1892 and 1940. 
Following the passage of legislation requiring the screening of immigrants, "the other Ellis Island" processed around one million people from Japan, China, and Korea. 

Drawing from memoirs, diaries, letters, and the "wall poems" discovered at the facility long after it closed, the nonfiction master Russell Freedman describes the people who came, and why; the screening process; detention and deportation; changes in immigration policy; and the eventual renaissance of Angel Island as a historic site open to visitors. 

Includes archival photos, source notes, bibliography, and index.

60,000 Japanese passed through Angel Island between 1910 and 1924, including about 20,000 pictures brides.
(Source HERE)

My thoughts:

Described as the 'other' Ellis Island was enough of an enticement to lead me to this book: I had no idea of its existence!

Angel Island is a remarkable and decidedly haunting photographic record of the detention center for immigrants coming from the East.

As news of the gold rush spread in 1848, thousands of Chinese left their families to set out for Gam Saan or Gold Mountain. It is estimated than more than 25,000 of them worked the fields whilst thousands more helped built the Central Pacific Railroad bringing the total to more than 100,000 Chinese by 1880 alone in the USA. 
As Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain shows, their arrival met with resentment and in 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act.

A Japanese immigrant's diary recorded many different languages were heard between the walls of Angel Island: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Mexican, Greek and even Italian, refugees from subsequent wars, travelling to eastern ports in hope of reaching the US shores and build their own American dream. Later, others escaping Jewish persecution joined these ranks before the US closed the borders in 1941.

Russell Freedman's book gives readers an idea of what it entailed for so many to land in America only to find themselves detained behind bars, separated from their loved ones - men on one side of the complex, women and children under 12 on the other side -, facing language barriers, medical tests and endless interrogations, waiting, always waiting...

A stunning visual reminder of a past many too often ignored and a record of the thousands of people who came to help build this country!

Today Angel Island can be visited and features Museum tours. The author provides information and an amazing amount of sources used for writing his book.

Listed for grades 4-7, it is however well worth checking out for anyone interested in history!

5 Stars!!

About the Author:

Image of Russell Freedman

Russell Freedman is the award-winning author of 47 books, some of which have been translated into a diverse number of languages, including Japanese, Korean, German, Spanish, Flemish, Arabic and Bengali. But Freedman wasn't always a children's book writer. 

He grew up in San Francisco and attended the University of California, Berkeley, and then worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press and as a publicity writer. In these jobs, Freedman did lots of research and provided important information to the public. Since becoming an author, he has done the same thing but now he gets to focus on topics that he is personally interested in and wants to learn more about. His nonfiction books range in subject from the lives and behaviors of animals to people in history whose impact is still felt today. 

Freeedman's work has earned him several awards, including a Newbery Medal in 1994 for Lincoln: a Photobiography, a Newbery Honor each for Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery in 1994 and The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane in 1992, and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.
Freedman has traveled extensively throughout the world to gather information and inspiration for his books. 

His latest book, Confucius: The Golden Rule was inspired by his extensive travels through Mainland China, where he visited Confucius' hometown in modern day QuFu, in the Shantung Province.

For a complete list of his books, check (HERE)
(Source Scholastic)

Note to Readers: this was a library loan and all opinions are mine only!

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