Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Erdmans's book is a highly informative study of the complex, often contentious relations among the third- and fourth-generation Polish ethnics who have constituted the center of Polish group life in Chicago, and the migrants, "tourists," and political refugees from Solidarity-era Poland who have recently settled among them. This rare focus on late-20th-century European immigration illuminates a neglected dimension of recent US social history; it centers around the original immigrants and their descendants (new "ethnics"). Erdmans combines a wealth of information in fresh ways and with admirable economy. The study straddles the Atlantic, cogently depicting political and social developments both in Polish Chicago and in Poland itself, and it draw on an array of sources and methods, including questionnaires, interviews, historical research, ethnography, social theory, and current scholarship on identity and nationalism. Among Erdmans's most fascinating findings is that Polish-Americans' legendary anticommunism has ironically turned against the recent refugees from communist Poland. The American "discourse of communism" provides a powerful lens through which recent Polish arrivals seem suspiciously to lack a healthy work ethic or a respectable sense of individualism. This clash of sensibilities reveals a good deal about the changes wrought in Polish Chicago across several generations, and about far broader issues of immigration, settlement, the political meanings of "assimilation," and the valences of "ethnic" attachment. A valuable resource. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. F. Jacobson; Yale University