Key Argument Summary
The onset of the 20th century was marked by incursion of immigrants into America. The majority of the immigrants, thought by most Americans to be naïve, came from non-English speaking countries (Laskin 6). The migration was caused by persistent conflicts at home and religious persecutions in mother countries.
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The Long Way Home outlines the effect of immigration on American culture while focusing on the circumstances that pushed the majority of the immigrants to serve in the Armed forces during the First World War (Laskin 7). The author, David Laskin, divided his book into sections in order to help readers comprehend the events outlined. He explains the factors for immigration, the journey towards America. Similarly, he shows us the experiences underwent by the immigrants and how they took part in military activities.
Unfavourable socio political factors and hardships of life played a role in the movement of the immigrants away from their mother lands (Laskin 12). Whereas the Eastern Europe immigrants were running away from the religious persecutions, those from the Asian countries were running away from persistent civil strife and tough life conditions. Contrary to the belief of most of the immigrants, there was massive alienation and harsh treatments from the Native Americans. Most immigrants resolved to take military jobs as a channel of gaining the American citizenship. Most immigrants took part in fighting in the first global conflict.
Those who were considered foreigners resolved to exist and operate in communities whose members hailed from the cultures of their countries of origin. The alienation was further worsened by the language barrier between the natives and the immigrants who could not communicate in English, the dominant American language at that time. Hence independent accounts of other precipitants provided the source of information for writing the events in the book (Laskin 13).
Laskin studies the history of soldiers that hailed abroad country and Americans born to foreign parents. He assesses the way of life in a country that they feel as entirely new. He tries to determine the experience they have had from the first time they entered into the country and to the point when some of them were introduced into the military.
He concludes that the twelve men, from different ethnic communities at the start of the world war one, gained official status of being Americans (Laskin 24). He argues that the bond between the natives and the immigrants grew as a result of the persistent participation of the latter in military training and battling a common enemy during the onset of the first global conflict.
The Long Way Home is based on a number of sources used by Laskin in writing his book. The author has dominantly used sources from historical archives and verbal interview. The author had to track down the individuals from different families that had experienced the events as outlined in the book.
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Tracking down the individuals required the author to create a print media advert. The immigration press also provided the necessary information and material that was largely needed in writing the book. While collecting the archives, the author travelled in different parts of the country as a means of ensuring that he acquired concrete and reliable information that would create a captivating story with substantial information. Laskin also depended on friends who showed him promising leads towards acquiring historical information (Laskin 40).
Strength and weakness of the book
Apart from rekindling the history of the immigrants in America, the book presents an illustration on the role the military service played in Americanizing the immigrant military service workers. The immigrants after successfully showing willingness to participate in the war, turned into part of an American culture with greatly reduced stereotypes against them. The book has relevant analyzed information that explains the social consequences of the first global war (Laskin 45).
For all the leads he has, the writer manages to only interview an Italian immigrant who is over a hundred and nine years of age. The age of the interviewee is too advanced and it is definite that a person of that age may not recall every occurrence at that time (Laskin 45). The writer dominantly relies on sources of information from the government agencies and the research conducted by independent researchers. There is minimal possibility that the records and accounts of what happened in the battlefield were left by the twelve families traced by the writer.
Relevance of the Book
History students may accrue a number of benefits from the information contained in Lakin’s work. The book may help in reminding the learners about the current sacrifice made by the both Immigrant and Native American military personnel (Laskin 121). There is a majority of foreign military personnel serving the country’s defence. Most of them have been promised American citizenship.
The book may show how the military has been marred by alienation, it also may help in reminding the students how the country has had a culture of incorporating individuals in military service. The information in the book is important for students during their learning process owing to the alienation that still exists in every sphere of life of an American. It is therefore recommended that the book should be used during the learning process.
Laskin, David. The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War. New York: Harper Perennial, 2011. Print.