This collection of oral histories strives to capture the drama and expanse of the American immigrant experience. ""American Mosaic"" is the result of five years of research and interviewing: it presents the recollections of 140 immigrants from six continents and 50 countries. The interviewees, who settled all over the United States, range in age from 17 to 101 and come from a variety of social and economic backgrounds - urban and rural, rich and poor, educated and illiterate. Most of the immigrants in this book are the unknown voices of history. Among them are a few well-known names - television commentator Alistair Cooke, physicist Edward Teller, ballerina Alexandra Danilova, actress Lynn Redgrave, baseball player Rennie Stennett, and others. Many of the ordinary immigrants have extraordinary stories to tell: Paul Maracek, who fled across the mountains from Czechoslovakia with the family diamonds baked in muffins; Su-Chu Hadley, the Chinese slave girl who found love in the arms of a gentle American soldier; John Daroubian, the Armenian boy who watched his family starve to death; Tanya Shimiewsky, the concentration camp survivor who still dreams of finding her daughter alive in Poland; Michael Kinney the Irish steelworker who thought he was ""down in Hell"" on his first day at work; Vo Thi Tam, one of the first Vietnamese ""boat people"" to arrive in America; and Demetrius Paleologas, the Greek dishwasher who became a millionaire. These stories of love, adventure, tragedy, and triumph depict the human side of immigration and reveal the ethnic heritage in the background of every American. An updated introductory chapter gives an overview of immigration history, a section on the legislation and a recapitualtion of recent trends. In his foreword, Oscar Handlin reflects on the book's contribution to the understanding of the American immigrant experience.
Joan Morrison, a frequent contributor on the social sciences to the New York Times among other publications, teaches at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Charlotte Fox Zabusky supervises an English as a Second Language program for refugees.