• America for Americans

  • A History of Xenophobia in the United States
  • By: Erika Lee
  • Narrated by: Shayna Small
  • Length: 13 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An award-winning historian reframes our continuing debate over immigration with a compelling history of xenophobia in the United States and its devastating impact

The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their "strange and foreign ways." Americans' anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America. 

Forcing us to confront this history, America for Americans explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America. It is a necessary corrective and spur to action for any concerned citizen.

©2019 Erika Lee (P)2019 Basic Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"As Erika Lee brilliantly shows, xenophobia has forever been an integral part of American racism. Forcing us to confront this history as we confront its present, America for Americans is essential reading for anyone who wants to build a more inclusive society." (Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times best-selling author of How to Be an Antiracist)

"A 'nation of immigrants,' America badly needs a history of xenophobia, and in America for Americans, Erika Lee delivers. By distinguishing nativism from xenophobia, she shows how Native Americans and Africans were transformed into foreigners and how that xenophobia fueled racist attacks against immigrants. Neither natural nor inevitable, xenophobia is always promoted by those who benefit from it, and in this courageous book, Lee names the beneficiaries." (Donna Gabaccia, emerita professor of history, University of Toronto)

"Erika Lee's America for Americans is an insightful, thought-provoking book that helps us understand why the United States, a 'nation of immigrants', could be the home to such longstanding and powerful anti-immigrant movements. Anyone who wants to fully understand why Americans are so divided over border walls, asylum policy, and sanctuary cities must read this outstanding book." (Tyler Anbinder, author of City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York)

What listeners say about America for Americans

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Essential to Understanding America

Topics covered here are essential to understanding how xenophic rhetoric is used in politics today.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic narrative and resource; flawed narration

This indispensable work helps us understand some of our society’s basest moments and prepares us for the sick sad next ones. The Audible experience is marred by mispronunciations of common nouns (it’s “gubernatorial,” not “gubernational”) and names (Jacob Javits pronounced his J’s just the way they look).