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The American Kaleidoscope
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About the Author

Lawrence H. Fuchs, Meyer and Walter Jaffe Professor of American Civilization and Politics at Brandeis University, is Vice-Chair of the United States Commission on Immigration Reform. He was appointed by President Carter and the Congress as Executive Director of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy. The Commission's 1981 report became the basis for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the first major reform of U.S. immigration policy since 1965. Fuchs frequently has testified before the House and Senate on immigration and refugee policy. He is the author of Family Matters (1973), American Ethnic Politics (1968), Those Peculiar Americans: The Peace Corps and American National Character (1968), John F. Kennedy and American Catholicism (1967), Hawaii Pono (1961), and The Political Behavior of American Jews (1955). He is also the originator and principal scholar of two texts, Black in White America (1974) and The American Experiment (1981).

Reviews

Fuchs investigates the complex relationship between the American character and growing ethnic diversity. In a well-researched, compelling argument which questions the major scholarship of the last 20 years, he contends that ethnic diversity has defined the American character and fosters unity rather than divisiveness. Tracing the assimilation of the major immigrant groups into the American mainstream during the 18th and 19th centuries, Fuchs demonstrates that a civic culture built upon civil rights for culturally diverse peoples served as the foundation of the American experience; an inclusive post-World War II pluralism involved at least the partial integration of blacks, Native Americans, Asians, and Mexican-Americans into the civic culture. Though not overlooking the continued underclass status of some groups, Fuchs timely book should be closely read by all types of audiences.-- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

"Marked by judiciousness and balance throughout, this is a definitive study of ethnicity in America."--Choice

"This engrossing narrative offers guidance to concerned citizens and policymakers grappling with the persistence of bigotry and an ethnic underclass . . . A notable achievement."--Publishers Weekly "In a well-researched, compelling argument which questions the major scholarship of the last 20 years, [Fuchs] contends that ethnic diversity has defined the American character and fosters unity rather than divisiveness . . . should be closely read by all types of audiences."--Library Journal "Marked by judiciousness and balance throughout, this is a definitive study of ethnicity in America."--Choice "[A] sweeping catalogue of American ethnic experience [that] retrieves for us both the miraculous integrative triumphs of American democracy, and the persistent failures of our kaleidoscopic culture."--Washington Post Book World

Fuchs contends that Americans of European descent abandoned their quest to maintain a racially exclusive society only within the last three decades. A founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, this Brandeis professor of American civilization paints a vast, richly detailed tapestry of the immigrant experience, as he examines how European settlers and their children kept non-Europeans--Afro-Americans, Amerindians, Mexicans, Asians, etc.--from sharing full economic and political equality. Although various groups now compete for power in America, the mobilization of ethnic interests has enhanced their interaction without giving rise to the internecine conflicts afflicting so much of the world, Fuchs argues. A notable achievement, kaleidoscopic in scope, this engrossing narrative offers guidance to concerned citizens and policymakers grappling with the persistence of bigotry and an ethnic underclass, and with such issues as illegal immigration, affirmative action and bilingual education. (Jan.)

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