Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown

Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown Review

A deeply reported look at the Chinese immigrant community in the United States, casting a new light on what it means to seek the American dream

Nearly three years ago, journalist Lauren Hilgers received an unexpected call. Hello, Lauren! a man shouted in halting Mandarin. We might be seeing you in New York again soon! The voice belonged to Zhuang Liehong, a Chinese man who had been arrested in his home country for leading a string of protests, and whom Hilgers had met the previous year while reporting a story. Despite zero contacts and a shaky grasp of English, Zhuang explained that he and his wife, Little Yan, had a plan to escape from their American tour group and move to Flushing, Queens, to escape persecution back home. A few weeks later, they arrived on Hilgers's doorstep.
With a novelistic eye for character and detail, Hilgers weaves their story with a larger investigation of the Chinese community in Flushing, one of the fastest-growing immigrant enclaves in the US. There's Tang Yuanjun, a former Tiananmen Square leader who has come to terms with living a shadow life in America as his friends and family continue their own in China. And Karen, one of Little Yan's friends from night school, who was kidnapped by her relatives yet remains hopeful, working part-time in a nail salon as she attends vocational school for hotel work.

Patriot Number One is Hilgers's nuanced, through-the-looking-glass story of the twenty-first-century American dream. Zhuang and Little Yan's challenges reveal a world hidden in plain sight: the byzantine network of employment agencies and language schools, of underground banks and illegal dormitories that allow immigrants to survive. Amid a raging immigration debate on the national stage, Hilgers's deeply reported and beautifully wrought account paints a revealing portrait of just what it takes to survive.

Title:Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Elyse

    Update from this morning:There is nothing boring about Lauren Hilger’s writing - It’s raw- personal - and page turning eye-opening. I’m walking away with a better understanding - of ‘why’ ci...

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    5 bold stars to Patriot Number One, a nonfiction masterpiece! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 Lauren Hilgers is an American journalist who met a man named Zhuang while reporting on site in his village in Chi...

  • Fran

    Chinatown, in Flushing, Queens, has one of the largest Chinese populations outside Asia. Having lived in Flushing in the 1980's, I traveled on the #7 subway line and shopped on Main Street. Ethnically...

  • Cheri

    4.5 Stars“And I've been searching for somethingTaken out of my soulSomething I would never loseSomething somebody stole“I don't know why I go walking at nightBut now I'm tired and I don't want to ...

  • Bkwmlee

    **UPDATE: After some thought, I decided to up the rating to 5 stars instead of 4.5, as this book had such a profound impact on me, I'm still thinking about it even now. Also added to favorites folder*...

  • Nancy

    I am so sorry this will be my last Blogging for Books choice as they are discontinuing. I have loved getting print books, which are so much easier on my eyes. I thank them for the 27 books I reviewed ...

  • Jill Dobbe

    The author spends time in China and while there, befriends a man, Zhuang, who is involved in the politics of Wukan, his hometown, and is labeled as a dissident. He is jailed and once released, finds h...

  • Kasa Cotugno

    Although this reads novelistically, it is the true account of a young family from China who manage to forge a new life chasing the elusive American dream. Timely and relevant, it tells how Zhuang feel...

  • Liz

    I won this in a first reads giveawayThis is a fantastic illustration of the modern immigrant experience. The author does a wonderful job of character development and showing how hard it is to start ov...

  • SibylM

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via their First To Read program, and an honest review was requested. "Patriot Number One" tells the story of Chinese democracy and anti-corruption act...