A Nation of Nations

A Great American Immigration Story

A Nation of Nations

“An incisive look at immigration, assimilation, and national identity” (Kirkus Reviews) and the landmark immigration law that transformed the face of the nation more than fifty years ago, as told through the stories of immigrant families in one suburban county in Virginia.

In the years since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, the foreign-born population of the United States has tripled. Americans today are vastly more diverse than ever. They look different, speak different languages, practice different religions, eat different foods, and enjoy different cultures.

In 1950, Fairfax County, Virginia, was ninety percent white, ten percent African-American, with a little more than one hundred families who were “other.” Currently the Anglo white population is less than fifty percent, and there are families of Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American origin living all over the county. “In A Nation of Nations, National Public Radio correspondent Tom Gjelten brings these changes to life” (The Wall Street Journal), following a few immigrants to Fairfax County over recent decades as they gradually “Americanize.” Hailing from Korea, Bolivia, and Libya, the families included illustrate common immigrant themes: friction between minorities, economic competition and entrepreneurship, and racial and cultural stereotyping.

It’s been half a century since the Immigration and Nationality Act changed the landscape of America, and no book has assessed the impact or importance of this law as A Nation of Nations. With these “powerful human stories…Gjelten has produced a compelling and informative account of the impact of the 1965 reforms, one that is indispensable reading at a time when anti-immigrant demagoguery has again found its way onto the main stage of political discourse” (The Washington Post).
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 424 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476743868 | 
  • October 2016
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Video

The Great Immigration Debate

With immigration sure to be a focal point of the 2016 election, longtime NPR correspondent and 'A Nation of Nations' author Tom Gjelten discusses the impact and legacy of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and what's at stake today.

About the Author

Tom Gjelten
Photograph by Jenni Schifter

Tom Gjelten

Tom Gjelten is a veteran journalist and author of Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege and Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause. Over a thirty-year career as a correspondent for NPR News, he has covered wars in Central America, the Middle East, and the former Yugoslavia, as well as major national stories in the United States. His NPR reporting has won him two Overseas Press Club Awards, a George Polk Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He is a regular panelist on the PBS program Washington Week, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Editorial Board at World Affairs Journal.

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