Hi, everyone. My Facebook memories told me that, 10 years ago today, I accepted a publishing contract for In The Eye of The Beholder with Turner Maxwell Books UK. I’ve been celebrating 10 years in print, but I truly didn’t remember the date of the contract. That was kind of fun!
Anyway, here is this week’s review. It’s a non-fiction piece from which I learned a great deal. You might want to check it out yourself!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stanford University Sinologist Gordon H. Chang has taken a bit of history that most of us probably never learned and made it come alive.
Chinese immigrants to the United States were the major construction force of the Central Pacific Railroad, which connected with the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit. Hired at sub-market wages, which were still more than they might have imagined earning at home, thousands of Chinese men risked their lives to make the Transcontinental Railroad a reality.
Chang gives us a look at the region in China from which most of the men hailed, as well as a look at the racism that they faced upon arrival … and even after their triumphant accomplishments. While there are few primary source documents available from the Railway Chinese themselves, the archaeological record and letters from Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, et al., provide the gateway to learn more about the struggles and celebrations experienced by the men who worked so hard.
This was not a leisurely beach read, by any stretch of the imagination. The lengthy bibliography and endnotes bear testimony that this is a scholarly work. Still, I think it’s an important read that teaches a lot about prejudice … and demonstrates to today’s reader how much work there remains to be done.