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Best of the National Book Festival: Melting Pot America, 2015

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Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Each weekday, we will feature a video presentation from among the thousands of authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival and as part of our new year-long series, National Book Festival Presents. Mondays will feature topical nonfiction; Tuesday: poetry or literary fiction; Wednesday: history, biography, memoir; Thursday: popular fiction; and Friday: authors who write for children and teens. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection!

“Melting Pot America” was the theme of a panel on the Contemporary Life stage at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival. The panelists were:

Ray Suarez, the John J. McCloy Visiting Professor of American Studies at Amherst College. Previously, he was the host of “Inside Story” on Al Jazeera America. His book “Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation” explores the rich history of one of the largest minorities in the United States and chronicles the personal struggles and successes of Latino immigrants, poets, soldiers and other individuals who have influenced American history.

Erika Lee, the granddaughter of Chinese immigrants who entered the United States through both Angel Island and Ellis Island. She teaches history at the University of Minnesota, where she is the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in immigration history and director of the Immigration History Research Center. Lee is the author of “Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America” and “The Making of Asian America: A History.”

Tom Gjelten, who has been a correspondent at NPR since 1986 and currently reports on issues of religion, faith and belief. He has received a Peabody Award and has covered social and political strife and war in Central America, South America, the former Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe. Gjelten is the author of “Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent’s View” and “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause,” which is a history of Cuba focusing on the Bacardi rum family. He discussed his book “A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story,” which explores the effect of the 1965 Immigration Act.

Adam Kushner, editor of the Washington Post Outlook section, made the introductions. Q&A begins at 33:05.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.