China Underground > China Book Library > Chinese Brothers, American Sons by Ed Shew

Chinese Brothers, American Sons by Ed Shew

Tens of thousands of men from southern China changed the course of American history with their contribution to the building of the first Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s.

Chinese Brothers, American Sons tells the little-known story of these adventurers through the eyes of two brothers, Li Chang and Li Yu, who arrive in San Francisco in 1854 in search of the Gold Mountain.

Publisher: Earnshaw Books
Related articles: history of Chinese Diaspore in America

Their hope is to make some money to take back to China, but they encounter violence and discrimination and, yes, American food. This apocryphal tale celebrates and illuminates the struggles and achievements of a largely-ignored group in the rich history of the United States of America—the Cantonese men who conquered the toughest part of the construction of the Railroad—the tunnels through the granite of the Sierra Nevada. Asian Americans were the target of racism for a century beyond the opening of the railroad in 1869, but the story in the end is one of hope and triumph—the Chinese brothers are no longer invisible; they are now American sons.

About the author


Ed Shew was born in 1949 in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), the son of Chinese parents. In his spare time, Ed is engaged in social justice activities for his church and the community. In addition, he’s a devoted fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

About Post Author

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