Great Lives from History: Asian & Pacific Islander Americans Review

“This reference set is Salem History's foray into ethnic categorization of biographies by focusing on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. Other volumes in this series cover African Americans, Latinos, and Jewish Americans. The main criteria for inclusion are the impact on American society by the individual (whether living or dead), their representation of a wide range of fields of endeavor, their relevance to classroom studies, and their appeal to students and the general public. The entries are arranged alphabetically by last name, but a category index offers a guide to users for the perception of impact. The majority of entries cover contributors to arts and literature, suggesting the connection of the biographical set to American popular culture. There are, however, many entries of business greats, religious leaders, political leaders, scientists, inventors, athletes, philosophers, and social activists. Each entry in this work gives a summary of the person's significance, followed by vital data. Sections of the entry cover "early life," "life's work," "significance," and further reading. Cross-references are at the end of each entry. Many entries have sidebars with interpretative information, such as comedian Margaret Cho's activism in LGBT rights. Entries cover familiar career information but also refer to the connection of the figure to Asian American identity. The third volume contains a number of useful appendixes, including a chronological list of entries (not surprisingly, the emphasis is on the first half of the twentieth century). Other appendixes of interest are a bibliography arranged by occupation, Website directory, mediagraphy (productions for television), literary works, libraries and research centers, organizations and societies, category index, geographical index, and subject index. An added value to the reference is that set comes with a complimentary online access to the printed content through the Salem History database. Overall, the set is a useful addition to the Asian American biographical bookshelf and is itself an artifact of ethnic perceptions and American popular culture.”