Paperback book launched on June 30, 2012

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Oxford University Press

Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America

By Erika Lee and Judy Yung
Oxford University Press, August 2010


A gripping portrait of the “Ellis Island of the West,” highlighting the immigration stories that made Angel Island a place of heartbreak as well as hope

From 1910 to 1940, over half a million people sailed through the Golden Gate, hoping to start a new life in America. But they did not all disembark in San Francisco; instead, most were ferried across the bay to the Angel Island Immigration Station.  For many, this was the real gateway to the United States. For others, it was a prison and their final destination, before being sent home.

In this landmark book, published to commemorate the immigration station’s 100th anniversary, historians Erika Lee and Judy Yung provide the first comprehensive history of the Angel Island Immigration Station.  Drawing on extensive new research, including immigration records, oral histories, and inscriptions on the barrack walls, the authors produce a sweeping yet intensely personal history of Chinese “paper sons,” Japanese picture brides, Korean refugee students, South Asian political activists, Russian and Jewish refugees, Mexican families, Filipino repatriates, and many others from around the world.

By examining the great diversity of immigrants who passed through America’s Pacific gateway, Angel Island reframes our understanding of both the Angel Island Immigration Station and America’s complicated relationship to immigration, a story that continues today.


"Erika Lee and Judy Yung have written the definitive book on Angel Island… They have used the personal stories of immigrants to make time and place come alive, reminding us that history is something that happens to real people and their families.”


--Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain: the One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family

"With this comprehensive history, Angel Island may now stand alongside Ellis Island as the other iconic gateway to America.  Lee and Yung give a thorough and humane look at the immigrants from surprisingly diverse origins who encountered an America both welcoming and unwelcoming on the Pacific coast."

--Mae Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

"In this meticulously researched and richly detailed book, Lee and Yung have unlocked Angel Island's deepest secrets and the link between US immigration policy and restrictive codas of race, gender, class.  Deeply relevant to present-day immigration debates, this book is people's history at its best."

--Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People

"With scholarly care and a great feel for the stories of those who passed through Angel Island, Erika Lee and Judy Yung have finally given this important historic site its due. This book teases out the complexities of America's immigration laws and their enforcement and in doing so greatly adds to our understanding of the immigrant experience."

--Vincent J. Cannato, author of American Passage: The History of Ellis Island