Tom MacWright

I read Settlers by J. Sakai on


An essential history book that smoothly mixes opinion with information. This is a history book that takes a side - that America has relied on ethnic subjugation throughout its history - and defends it thoroughly.

It’s an engaging read, and includes many perspectives I had never considered. For instance, Sakai argues that labor unions primarily served to keep minorities out of industries and includes lots of really fascinating details about the experiences of Japanese and African Americans during World War 2. And plenty of shocking facts like the assertion that Hitler kept a portrait of Henry Ford in his office - which was reported in the New York Times in 1922.

This printing is from 2014, but the book was originally published in 1983. Its context is a little complicated: as far as I can tell, this is Sakai’s only published book, and there’s very little information about who he is. The perspective is decidedly Marxist-Leninist and anti-white-supremacy, to the point that it’s supportive of the Black nationalism of Marcus Garvey over more widely celebrated figures like W.E.B. DuBois.

Stylistically, there are a few defining features: Afrika and Amerika are the preferred spellings of those places. When Sakai refers to groups of people he identifies with, he uses the ‘we’ form.

All in all - I highly recommend this book. It was very enlightening and motivating, though it’s certainly discouraging about our place in the world and the nature of mankind. I do wish it was more thoroughly updated, so it could stretch beyond 1983 into the 2000s: the only additions since that 1983 publishing are an interview and some new forewords.