Takaki, Ronald T(oshiyuki) 1939
TAKAKI, Ronald T(oshiyuki) 1939
PERSONAL: Born April 12, 1939, in Honolulu, HI; married, 1961; children: three. Education: College of Wooster, B.A., 1961; University of California—Berkeley, M.A., 1962, Ph.D., 1967.
CAREER: College of San Mateo, San Mateo, CA, instructor in American history, 1965-67; University of California—Los Angeles, assistant professor of history, 1967-72; University of California—Berkeley, associate professor of ethnic studies, beginning 1972, currently professor of ethnic studies. Messenger Lecturer, Cornell University, 1993.
MEMBER: American Historical Association, Society of American Historians (fellow).
AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1970-71; distinguished teaching award, University of California—Berkeley, 1981; Rockefeller Foundation fellow, 1981-82; American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1994, for A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America; honorary doctorates from Wheelock College, College of Wooster, Macalester College, and Northeastern University.-
Violence in the Black Imagination: Essays and Documents, Putnam (New York, NY), 1972.
Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth-CenturyAmerica, Knopf (New York, NY), 1979, revised edition, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawaii, 1835-1920, University of Hawaii Press (Honolulu, HI), 1983.
(Editor) From Different Shores: Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in America, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1987, 3rd edition published as Debating Diversity: Clashing Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in America, 2002.
Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of AsianAmericans, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1989.
A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.
Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.
Strangers at the Gates Again: Asian American Immigration after 1965, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Rebecca Solnit) Tracing Cultures (essays), introduction by Andy Grundberg, Friends of Photography (San Francisco, CA), 1995.
A Larger Memory: A History of Our Diversity, withVoices, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.
Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America inWorld War II, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.
edited by rebecca stehoff
Specious Dreams: The First Wave of Asian Immigration, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1993.
Journey to Gold Mountain: The Chinese in ChelseaHouse, Nineteenth-Century America, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1994.
Raising Cane: The World of Plantation Hawaii, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1994.
Issei and Nissei: The Settling of Japanese America, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1994.
Ethnic Islands: The Emergence of Urban ChineseAmerica, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1994.
From the Land of Morning Calm: The Koreans inAmerica, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1994.
In the Heart of Filipino America: Immigrants from thePacific Isles, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1994.
Democracy and Race: Asian Americans and WorldWar II, edited by Rebecca Stehoff and Carol Takaki, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1995.
India in the West: South Asians in America, edited by Rebeca Stehoff and Carol Takaki, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1995.
From Exiles to Immigrants: The Refugees fromSoutheast Asia, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1995.
Contributor to history journals and to Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
SIDELIGHTS: Ronald T. Takaki has written over twenty books on ethnic topics. In recent years he has focused on the immigration of various Asian peoples and their assimilation into U.S. culture. His earliest works focused on the slavery of African Americans in the pre-Civil War south, and these provoked debate among prominent historians and commentators on American society.
Takaki's first book was A Pro-Slavery Crusade: The Agitation to Reopen the African Slave Trade. The abolishment of slavery in the United States prior to the Civil War caused a far-reaching upheaval in the south, where the entire economy depended on slave labor and the social structure revolved around a person's wealth as reflected by the number of slaves he owned. Takaki's book, unlike other works on this topic, focuses on what happened in and to the white south as a result of abolition, particularly in the 1850s when agitated southerners lobbied for a revival of the slave trade. The book was faulted by a Choice reviewer for failing to compare the southern position with that of the north or the nation as a whole, though Takaki does discuss the southerners who opposed the resumption of slavery. Library Journal critic F. A. Burdick pointed out, on the other hand, that this study can assist the reader who wants "to understand not only the nature of American . . . slavery but also the motives and forces which drove men to enslave other men."
Violence in the Black Imagination: Essays and Documents offers readers a look at fiction written prior to the Civil War by such African Americans as Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, and Martin Delany. Three novels are included in the work, along with an evaluation that Takaki wrote to counter what he believed was a prevalent over-reliance on white sources to explain black attitudes. The result, reported Norman Lederer in the Library Journal, is "an analysis of the manner in which the [black] authors employed violence in an effort to purge themselves of frustrations and bitterness caused by discrimination and prejudice."
Perhaps the most controversial of Takaki's early books may be Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. A Choice reviewer called this "a provocative and ambitious book" in which Takaki argues that "what whites did to one racial group had direct consequences for others." Richard Drinnon's comments in Commonweal concurred, but he also called it "a deeply flawed book" because the author, by depicting racial domination in America as a gradual and cumulative process, "has caged himself in concepts singularly inappropriate for his topic [which] . . . keep him from seeing that Anglo-Americans have always been imperialists and colonizers."
In A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, Takaki "provides a fresh slant on American society by tracing the interwoven histories of Native Americans, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Chicanos, Irish and Jewish immigrants," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. While John J. Miller in Commentary found that "although ostensibly aiming to affirm America's racial diversity, what A Different Mirror mostly offers is a history of ethnic persecution," Geoffrey C. Ward, writing in American Heritage, stated: "I know of no single volume that more eloquently chronicles the treatment and mistreatment that has been meted out to the various non-European minorities."
One of Takaki's purposes in writing A Different Mirror was to provide a university textbook. Takaki's "intention, apparently," Christopher Clausen remarked in the New Leader, "was to write a textbook for courses (required at more and more universities) in 'cultural diversity.'" While Ken Masugi in the National Review found that "Takaki's screed, A Different Mirror, reflects the intellectual poverty but the political force of the multicultural assault on America," a critic for Publishers Weekly dubbed it "a brilliant revisionist history of America that is likely to become a classic of multicultural studies." A critic for the Journal of American History concluded that A Different Mirror "has enriched the scholarly debate" as it relates to "culture, ethnicity, and historiography."
Takaki turns to the racial tensions of World War II in his Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II, a book that provides "anecdotal evidence" of how American racial minorities reacted to the war, according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. Grant A. Fredericksen in Library Journal explained that "Takaki uses countless personal stories (often of one minority person whose prejudiced view of another minority was dispelled after being thrown together with that group) to create a vivid and very readable text." A critic for Publishers Weekly concluded: "Takaki compellingly argues that these experiences prefigured the civil rights revolution."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Heritage, September, 1993, Geoffrey C. Ward, review of A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, p. 12.
American Historical Review, October, 1980; June, 1984.
Choice, October, 1971; July-August, 1973; April, 1980; February, 1984.
Commentary, September, 1993, John J. Miller, review of A Different Mirror, p. 64.
Commonweal, September 12, 1980.
Economist, June 26, 1993, review of A Different Mirror, p. 97.
Journal of American History, September, 1980; June, 1984; September, 1994, p. 571.
Library Journal, October 1, 1971; August, 1972; March 1, 1980; May 1, 2000, Grant A. Fredericksen, review of Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II, p. 134; April 15, 2002, James L. Dudley, review of audiobook version of Double Victory, p. 144.
Nation, December 8, 1979.
National Review, October 4, 1993, Ken Masugi, review of A Different Mirror, p. 57.
New Leader, May 17, 1993, Christopher Clausen, review of A Different Mirror, p. 32.
New York Review of Books, November 22, 1979.
Publishers Weekly, April 19, 1993, review of A Different Mirror, p. 41; July 10, 1995, review of Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb, p. 52; July 6, 1998, review of A Larger Memory: A History of Our Diversity, with Voices, p. 39; May 29, 2000, review of Double Victory, p. 66.*