by Ann Bausum • with a poem foreword by Naomi Shihab Nye
April 2009 • National Geographic Kids • Ages 10 and up
With painstaking research, an unerring eye for just the right illustration, and her unique narrative style, Bausum makes the history of immigration in American come alive for young people.
Story: The patriotic stories of hope that shape most immigration books are supplemented here by the lesser-known stories of those denied, detained, and deported. Ann Bausum's compelling book presents a revealing series of snapshots from the dark side of immigration history. The St. Louis, a ship filled with Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany sought refuge in American ports and was turned away, condemning many of its passengers to ultimately perish in the Holocaust. Japanese-Americans were rounded up during World War II and placed in detention centers—regardless of their patriotism—for security reasons. Emma Goldman was branded a dangerous extremist and sent back to Russia in 1919, after living 30 years in the United States. These are must-hear stories -- and Naomi Shihab Nye's poem -- "Statue of Liberty Dreams of Emma Lazarus, Awakens with Tears on Her Cheeks -- might just leave you with tears on your cheeks.
Includes more than 75 archival photos and illustrations; extensive back matter, including a comprehensive time line of U.S. immigration history; research notes; citations; resource guide; bibliography; and index.
Story behind the story: Author Ann Bausum, daughter of a history professor, grew up with a love for American history and a passion for research, and she explains the story of this book in this letter:
Denied, Detained, Deported confronts the dark side of U.S. immigration. The United States has rightly earned praise for welcoming immigrants to her shores, but plenty of mistakes have been made along the way, too. We’ve learned by trial and error—and are still learning today—when to tighten our borders, who to exclude, how to handle suspicions of disloyalty, and who to send away. These are the stories of the denied, detained, and deported.
I have chosen to put a human face on this topic. The three title chapters of the book look at individuals and their families as they coped with immigration policy gone wrong, whether because of racism, concerns over national security, political posturing, or economic anxiety. Readers can better identify with the challenges created during these periods of history when they become emotionally invested in individuals who lived through the times.
One thing that fascinates me about history is the way it echoes and repeats itself. That vibrancy helps make history relevant to young people today. We can read about the 19th-century exclusion of Chinese from citizenship and employment and thus bring greater appreciation to the complexity of contemporary immigration debates. We can study the fears that accompanied past threats to national security and thus measure current events with greater sophistication. We can humanize the impact of immigration policy by looking at individual stories and thus have greater compassion for immigrants everywhere.
I wonder if one reason young people aren’t more engaged in studying history is that we may focus more on teaching facts while forgetting that the word “story” is embedded in the term history. Stories are most engaging when they have dimension, villains, heroes, challenges, surprises, and dramatic outcomes. Our nation’s history is rich with just those qualities, and these are the stories I love to research and present to young people.
I wrote this book because I am an optimist. I believe that if we know more, try harder, and educate better, we will become a stronger nation and a happier people. By writing about the dark side of history, I hope to inspire young people to set a higher bar for their own generation. I hope that by embracing our past, by championing what we’ve done well, and by learning from what could have been done differently, we will live better as individuals and as a nation.
Best wishes for happy reading,