Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What it Means to Be American.



Tamar Jacoby
Defining Assimilation for the 21st Century
The New Immigrants: A Progress Report


Herbert J. Gans
The American Kaleidoscope, Then and Now
Stephan Thernstrom
Rediscovering the Melting Pot–Still Going Strong
Nathan Glazer
Assimilation Today: Is One Identity Enough?
Roger Waldinger
The 21st Century: An Entirely New Story
Victor Nee, Richard Alba
Toward a New Definition


Peter D. Salins
The Assimilation Contract – Endangered But Still Holding
Douglas S. Massey
The American Side of the Bargain


Gregory Rodriguez
Mexican-Americans and the Mestizo Melting Pot
Min Zhou
Assimilation, the Asian Way
Alejandro Portes
For the Second Generation, One Step at a Time
Pete Hamill
The Alloy of New York


Joel Kotkin
Toward a Post-Ethnic Economy
George J. Borjas
Economic Assimilation: Trouble Ahead
Amitai Etzioni
Assimilation to the American Creed
Peter Skerry
“This Was Our Riot, Too”: Political Assimilation Today


Stephen Steinberg
The Melting Pot and the Color Line
John McWhorter
Getting Over Identity


Michael Barone
New Americans After September 11
Stanley Crouch
Goose-Loose Blues for the Melting Pot
Gary Shteyngart
The New Two-Way Street
Tamar Jacoby
What It Means To Be American in the 21st Century



The New Immigrants and
What It Means To Be American

Basic Books, Paperback Edition, November 2004
Basic Books, Hardcover Edition, February 2004

Edited by Tamar Jacoby
Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow

Does the melting pot still work? Should it? What does it mean to become an American in an era of globalization, the internet, identity politics, ethnic niche advertising and a TV remote with a hundred or more different channels?

Led by Tamar Jacoby, twenty-one of the writers who have thought longest and hardest about immigration come together around a surprising consensus: yes, immigrant absorption still works—and given the number of newcomers arriving today, the nation’s future depends on it. But that doesn’t mean assimilation has to look or feel like a 1950s stereotype. It need not be incompatible with ethnic identity—and we as a nation need to find new ways to talk about and encourage becoming American.

The stakes could hardly be higher. One in nine Americans is an immigrant. Nearly one-fifth of U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. The number of foreign-born Americans—33 million and growing—now exceeds the entire population of Canada. And in the wake of 9/11, with the nation as a whole thinking harder than ever before about what it means to be American, it couldn’t be more important to help these newcomers find a way to fit in.

Hailing from across the ideological spectrum, the contributors to REINVENTING THE MELTING POT include distinguished social scientists, prize-winning journalists and fiction-writers—thinkers like Nathan Glazer, Herbert Gans, John McWhorter, Michael Barone, Pete Hamill and Stanley Crouch. They consider every aspect of the issue: from how today's new arrivals are different than yesterday's to how immigrant businesses are faring in the Houston suburbs. Yet running through their essays is a single, common theme: although ethnicity plays a more important role now than ever before, today's newcomers can and will become Americans and enrich our national life—reinventing the melting pot and reminding us all just what it is we have in common.

Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Someone Else's House: America's Unfinished Struggle for Integration. Formerly with The New York Times and Newsweek, she writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, Commentary and other publications. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey.


"...a thoughtful, provocative collection of essays that reconsiders and ultimately attempts to reinvent the traditional myth of the American melting pot." —Booklist

"...this important book shows that there is nothing more American than a debate over what it means to be an American." —Wall Street Journal

Someone Else's House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration.Someone Else's House:
America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration


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Review of Samuel Huntington's "Who Are We?" Washington Post, 5-16-04

Book Info:

Available at
ISBN: 0465036341
320 pages


Lindsay Young Craig
Vice President
Communications & Marketing
Manhattan Institute
212-599-7000 Ext.315

Advance Praise:

“Europe’s failure to assimilate its Muslim minorities, painfully evident in the wake of the September 11 attacks, makes the urgency of this task all the more apparent for the United States. Reinventing the Melting Pot underscores why a common culture is problematic but of critical importance in making the American nation work.”
Francis Fukuyama, author of THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN

“Although the debate is too frequently captured by bean-counters and economists, the issue of immigration and assimilation is probably the most important one we face, including terrorism, to which it is linked. We are either going to be a strong, united, proud, patriotic nation, or we will be in trouble and drag the rest of the world into bigger trouble still. Tamar Jacoby has put together a collection that should be read and studied by all those wish America well.”
Ben Wattenberg, American Enterprise Institute

“Nowhere else can one find between two covers so many informed and engaged analyses of recent immigration in relation to social cohesion and political democracy.”
David A. Hollinger, author of POSTETHNIC AMERICA

“America's relentlessly recombinant pool of genes and memes will confound any single ethnic group's attempts to own the mainstream—or to disown it. This lively and lucid book reminds us that being American means always becoming American, and it will help us appreciate the endless newness of our common identity.”
Eric Liu, author of THE ACCIDENTAL ASIAN

Reinventing the Melting Pot brings together many of America's top thinkers and writers to debate an old question that matters as much to our generation as it did to our great-grandparents.”
John J. Miller, author of THE UNMAKING OF AMERICAN

“In recent years, Americans have been intensely looking for themselves, and for the first time in history there is no agreement whether we belong to our ancestral background or to the promises of the foreground that might enable us to become who we want to be. In Tamar Jacoby’s timely and valuable anthology, this profound question is explored by thinkers of all persuasions.”
John Patrick Diggins, Distinguished Professor of History, Graduate Center, CUNY

Manhattan Institute