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The book was originally written by Kennedy in 1958, while he was still a senator. It was written as part of the Anti-Defamation League's series entitled the One Nation Library. Subsequently, after gaining the presidency, he called on Congress to undertake a full reevaluation of immigration law; and he began to revise the book for further publication. In August 1963, excerpts of the 1958 pamphlet were published in the New York Times Magazine. He was assassinated before completing the revision, but the book was nevertheless posthumously published in 1964 with an introduction by his brother, then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. In 2008, the book was re-issued by the Anti-Defamation League.
The book contains a short history of immigration in the United States beginning in colonial America, an analysis of the importance immigration has played in American history, and John F. Kennedy's proposals for the liberalization of immigration law.
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