Walter D. Kamphoefner teaches in the field of immigration history and the U.S. Civil War. He spent three yearlong guest professorships at German universities, two on Fulbright lectureships, and served as President of the Society for German-American Studies, 2015-17. He has published widely in the field of immigration and ethnicity, with articles in four languages and three books out in both German and English versions.
Kamphoefner is able to convincingly offer these types of correctives not only through his wide reading of contemporary scholarship but also his use of letters and other documents written by the German immigrants and settlers themselves. Indeed, one of the best qualities of this book is the way in which it balances the secondary source syncretism with the voices of the historical communities under study. Kamphoefner’s sources range widely across places of origin, classes, occupations, genders, and political persuasions. What comes across is a picture that truly reflects the wide variety of people that shared a German-American identity and the many ways in which they adapted to and navigated in their adopted country through three centuries of turbulence.
In Germans in America, Kamphoefner finds evidence of German language retention and cultural distinctiveness in small enclaves across the US from the 19th century to the present, albeit waning today. A seasoned expert in the field of immigration history, Kamphoefner draws on more than 11,000 German American immigrant letters to explore the meaning of ethnicity and the still-understudied group’s place in American society and history. This engaging, much-needed synthesis is at its best when readers hear immigrants’ voices directly…. Mostly focused on the political and economic German refugees of the 19th century, Kamphoefner includes fascinating evidence from his own family history in the Midwest and Texas…. Recommended. General readers.
This is a book by a preeminent scholar that fills an obvious void. There is no other contemporary study that matches it in depth, perspective, and underlying scholarship. It is a must read for both the serious scholar and the amateur historian and should serve these audiences as an indispensable reference for years to come.
This is a necessary book for the field of German American history. Scholars of German America have lacked a single-volume synthesis that reflects recent work in the field, and much of the German American history that was written for a popular audience has lacked a strong scholarly background. With this volume, Kamphoefner has addressed both of these issues, and I expect that his work will be in use for years to come.
Germans in America is a veritable tour de force. It is a work of remarkable synthesis, breathtaking in both breadth and scope, from a leading scholar in the field of American immigration history. Kamphoefner is a gifted writer and storyteller, employing clear, jargon-free, and at times witty prose to weave together a comprehensive, sweeping narrative of the German experience in the United States from colonial times to the present that is at once academically rigorous and imminently readable. ...This is history brilliantly told from the bottom up in the best tradition of the New Social History’s concern for lived experience and inclusivity with regard to race, class, and gender.
This volume consolidates and synthesizes decades of work by one of the leading scholars of German America, one who can plumb the depths of personal letters as well as quantitative and genealogical records. The chapters explore key issues from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for this group and the author presents them for a general audience. As an overview, it shines.
Finally! Germans in America is the engaging interpretive history of German America I’ve been waiting for. Kamphoefner pairs his encyclopedic knowledge and deep research with vibrant writing and arresting anecdotes, producing a book that will be widely enjoyed and long consulted.
Professor Kamphoefner’s book provides scholars and general readers alike with an impressive overview of the history of German-speaking immigrants and their descendants in America. Written in an engaging and accessible style, Germans in America draws on key primary and secondary sources to connect the German-American experience with the larger social, political, and cultural currents in America from the colonial era into the twentieth century. Prof. Kamphoefner rightly focuses much of his attention on the nineteenth century, which marked the demographic high point of German immigration to the United States. This book underscores the social, religious, linguistic, and cultural heterogeneity of German America while addressing important questions related to ethnicity and identity in America more broadly.
Kamphoefner’s Germans in America makes interesting reading. Kamphoefner is a gifted storyteller whose voice and German-American background echo through every sentence. Unlike many historical texts, this one draws the reader in and brings to life the essence of what our immigrant ancestors experienced. Should this work be published again in a second edition.
This is a welcome contribution from a leading figure on this topic, Walter D. Kamphoefner, who describes his goal as making "the latest scholarly research on German Americans accessible to the educated general reader without any specialized background knowledge, particularly those interested in their ethnic heritage". He succeeds. A variety of myths and tales often heard from the public and occasionally scholars are dispatched. As we would hope from "a concise history," the book is an easy and engaging read.
By combining readability while maintaining scholarly rigor, Kamphoefner has contributed a book from which both casual and academic readers can draw insight.
The author covers much ground in this book. Kamphoefner is able to incorporate academic research and make it accessible to the larger world outside of academia, specifically those interested in the U.S.Civil War, genealogy, German ethnicity, and immigration. As such, “Germans in America: A Concise History” is valuable for both scholars and general readers. Walter Kamphoefner has used his gift of storytelling, his expertise in migrant letters, and his knowledge of German and German culture and quantitative data to tell the story of German immigrants across four centuries: he describes how Germans decided to emigrate, where they settled, how they earned a living, how they lived their lives in the U.S., how they expressed and valued their German-American heritage and how German language and culture fell by the wayside in the U.S. It is an important story to tell and one that needs documenting, especially given that until a few years ago more U.S. citizens could trace their roots toGerman-speaking nations than to any other area in the world.