American dream

With more than three million foreign-born residents today, New York has been America’s defining port of entry for nearly four centuries, a magnet for transplants from all over the globe. These migrants have brought their hundreds of languages and distinct cultures to the city, and from there to the entire country. More immigrants have come to New York than all other entry points combined. 

 City of Dreams by Tyler Anbinder is peopled with memorable characters both beloved and unfamiliar, whose lives unfold in rich detail.

Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel is Behold the Dreamers. It chronicles a young Cameroonian couple making a new live in New York just as the great recession of the 2000s upends the economy. The novel explores marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trap-doors in the American Dream. 

In his “History of the Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire,” Edward Gibbon wrote: “All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.”  More to the point of American history, the Irish philosopher, George Berkley (in 1752) paraphrased John Quincy Adams’ note: “Westward the course of empire takes its way,” thus: “The first four acts already past, a fifth shall close the drama with the day:  time’s noblest offspring is the last.”