The Crisis of American Nationality
The current political debate over immigration and English Only laws is not new in United States history. Along with civil rights for Black people, cultural assimilation of immigrants was a big issue in the wake of World War I.
Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality by Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University, is a brilliant, moving, superbly written history of the 77th Division, composed of hyphenate Americans: Italians, Jews, Chinese, and Irish, from the lower East Side of Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights; and the 369th Infantry Regiment, the Harlem Hell Fighters; as they trained, deployed, fought and returned from fighting in the French Argonne Forest in World War I.
Through the lens of the experiences of these two divisions and the men who fought in them, Slotkin tells the story of the cultural conflict over what it means to be an American in the inter-war years. The issues raised have become current again in the debates over gay marriage, women's rights and English Only laws being promoted all across the United States.
Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality is an important and timely book that puts the current cultural disputes and definitions of citizenship in historical perspective. It is an essential book for anyone who wants to weigh-in effectively in the current controversy over immigration, citizenship, and equal rights.
Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality by Richard Slotkin, published by Henry Holt and Company, 2005 ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-4124-8
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