90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Chinatown And Human Smuggling

0722snakeheadwebby

June 6, 1993, on the shore of Long Island — an amazing, terrible spectacle. A leaky tramp freighter, The Golden Venture, run aground in pummeling midnight seas.

It had come from halfway round the world, by way of Africa, with a hold full of would-be illegal Chinese immigrants. Half-starved, disoriented, tumbling out in the surf. Some drowning.

They were just part of a huge trade, run out of New York’s Chinatown, smuggling humans into America. “Snakeheads,” the smugglers were called.

This hour, On Point: The snakeheads, underground Chinatown, and a wild chapter in pursuit of the American dream.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guest:

We’re joined in our studio by Patrick Radden Keefe.  He has written for The New Yorker, Slate, The New York Times, and many other publications, and he is a fellow at the Century Foundation.  His new book is “The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream.”

Read the first chapter of “The Snakehead” (pdf).

More links:

Patrick has been discussing the book in an extended online exchange with sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh at Slate.

The book’s website offers notes on the key characters, maps of the Golden Venture’s voyage and the Chinatown neighborhood, and links.

Here’s a video trailer showing Chinatown’s streets and the restaurant run by Sister Ping:

In an On Point blog post, Tom Ashbrook recalls his days on the “snakehead” beat as a rooking reporter in Hong Kong for the South China Morning Post.

Also check out WBUR’s “Inside Out” documentary “Snakeheads and Slavery.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 31, 2014
Nurse Kaci Hickox, right, and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine State Trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.  (AP)

Quarantines and Ebola. An exploding rocket. Apple’s CEO comes out. Hawaiian lava flows. Midterms in the home stretch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Oct 31, 2014
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and Sauncho Smilax (Beninico del Toro) share a drink in a scene from the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Inherent Vice," an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment)

from “Interstellar” to “Into the Woods.” The biggest and best movies of the fall and holiday seasons. What to see, what to skip.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 30, 2014
Soylent is a new meal-replacement substance meant to offer a complete nutritional alternative to traditional food. (Courtesy Soylent)

Soylent is a grey smoothie the consistency of pancake batter that claims it can replace all your food. On a crowded planet, is this the future of food? Plus: what does the Antares rocket crash mean for private space travel?

 
Oct 30, 2014
Realtor Helen Hertz stands in front of one of her listings in Cleveland Heights, Ohio Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Hertz, a real estate agent for more than three decades, has seen firsthand what has happened to the market in the wake of the recession and foreclosure crisis. (AP)

Home ownership rates are at a 20-year low. Millennials and more aren’t buying. We’ll look at what American’s think now about owning a home.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
A Bit More On The History Of Quarantine
Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

So this whole quarantine thing — why to do it, when to do it, and when to just say no.

More »
Comment
 
The Explicast, Episode Two: Why Is Election Day On A Tuesday?
Friday, Oct 24, 2014

The Explicast is back for another round. This time, we’re looking at Election Day, and why we all keep voting on a random Tuesday in early November.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: October 24, 2014
Friday, Oct 24, 2014

On comments, comment sections, and ROY G BIV.

More »
Comment