Between 1840 and 1900, more than 2 million Chinese laborers left their homeland to work in plantations and mines around the world. Twenty-five thousand of them joined California's Gold Rush. By the 1860s, Chinese immigrants were a vibrant part of the state's economy, accounting in some rural counties for one of every five residents. But by the turn of the century, more than half of a Chinese American population that once reached 80,000 was gone - deported, exiled or dead -- and the survivors herded into urban ghettoes.
How and why this happened is the subject of "Driven Out," a complex and riveting portrait of one of the most neglected episodes in American history. Its author, University of Delaware Professor Jean Pfaelzer, pulls no punches: What the Chinese experienced in the Pacific Northwest reminds her of pogroms, ethnic cleansing and Nazism. Does she make her case and, if so, how come most people don't know about this reign of terror?
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