Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing is coming out on October 15th, and looks like it might be a great book.

The Sacramento Bee today chose it as its “Top Nonfiction Pick” for the fall. Here is what is said:

If America is a land founded by immigrants, then just what is “American”? It is no single thing but many things mixed together to form a new thing.

Ilan Stavans, a professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts, has gathered the writings of immigrants who put forth their firsthand experiences of jumping into the cauldron of this country.

They came from around the world over a period of four centuries. All arrived in search of opportunity, and all had to navigate the shock of the new. Many found racism and brutal conditions instead of the dreams they had envisioned. A few built empires.

Stavans culled his material from diaries, memoirs, letters, travel notes and stories. As immigration to this country continues, and the politicization of it becomes more visible, perhaps perspectives from the past are more valuable than ever.