City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York
City of Dreams is a book that represents ten years of research and devotion by its author, Tyler Anbinder. The book covers immigration history in New York City, of course, but specifically it covers several key periods of this history and organizes such a large amount of material in a logical way. The immigrant waves covered include the Dutch in NYC’s earliest period, the English and Scottish in the 1700s, the German and Irish in the 1800s, the Italians and Eastern European Jews in the enormous wave starting in the late 1800s, and the Chinese and Caribbean immigrants in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
This is an enjoyable read. Although the length and depth of the book seems daunting at first, Anbinder writes with an easygoing skill and style. The book starts off with an interesting ode to Irish immigrant Annie Moore, the first immigrant to step foot on Ellis Island. Each section works, more or less, as a stand-alone section, yet each section builds upon the one before it. In order to make such an enormous amount of history palatable, City of Dreams focuses on individuals and their stories rather than offering an anonymous, textbook-style tale. For example, Anbinder includes an interesting Jewish immigrant family history of his own, and, for another example, he tells the tale of Dominican immigrant Oscar de La Renta. Overall, this is a wonderful addition to the literature and history of immigration in the United States.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt