Montana Frontier Chinese Culture Review of Christopher W. Merritt's The Coming Man from Canton.

Montana Frontier Chinese Culture True West
The Coming Man from Canton by Christopher W. Merritt.

The Coming Man from Canton: Chinese Experience in Montana, 1862-1943, by Christopher W. Merritt  (University of Nebraska Press, $65) is a meticulously researched and carefully written study that reads like a dissertation. It is loaded with graphs, charts, lists and pictures of archaeological sites and artifacts that tell the story of the Chinese miners, laundry and agricultural workers, cooks and restaurant owners.

Montana Frontier Chinese Culture True West
Chinese immigrant labor played a critical role in the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad, including the Mullan Tunnel (above) in 1882-’83, according to Christopher W. Merritt in The Coming Man from Canton: Chinese Experience in Montana, 1862-1943.
— Courtesy Christopher W. Merritt —

The human side of the Chinese experience is largely missing from the narrative because there are few residents in the state at the time of this writing that trace their ancestry to the Chinese pioneers, so the story of Montana Chinese must be told largely from historical and archaeological sources. This is an essential source on the Montana Chinese experience.

—Harlan Hague, author of If I Should Die.

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