The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America

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This rags-to-riches history of three generations offers a “terrifically readable, compelling” look at the Chinese middle class and the immigrant experience (Publishers Weekly).

In 1864, at the age of twelve, Jeu Dip left southern China for America. In San Francisco, he reinvented himself as Joseph Tape, an immigration broker whose new life allowed his family to become one of the first of a brand-new social type: middle-class Chinese Americans.
 
As the Tape family’s rags-to-riches story unfolds, their history illuminates that of America. Seven-year-old Mamie Tape attempts to integrate California schools, resulting in the landmark 1885 Tape v. Hurley case. The family’s intimate involvement in the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair reveals how the Chinese American culture brokers essentially invented Chinatown—and so Chinese culture—for American audiences.
 
Many books have been written about the trials of coming to America, but as Mae Ngai follows the legacy of one family as they integrate into society over the course of generations, she shines a much-needed light on the Asian American experience.
 
“Mae Ngai tells a story we haven’t heard, and very much need. Provocative, groundbreaking, and revelatory, The Lucky Ones is a great read, to boot—as pleasurable as it is enlightening.” —Gish Jen
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About the author

Mae Ngai’s book on illegal immigration, Impossible Subjects, was called “deeply stimulating” and “highly original” by the Los Angeles Times. It won the AHA Littleton-Griswold Prize for best book on American law and society, and the OAH Frederick Jackson Turner Award for best first book on any topic in American history. Ngai is a professor of history at Columbia University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Sep 15, 2010
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780547504285
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / Asian & Asian American
Social Science / Emigration & Immigration
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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From Tony Hsieh to Amy Chua to Jeremy Lin, Chinese Americans are now arriving at the highest levels of American business, civic life, and culture. But what makes this story of immigrant ascent unique is that Chinese Americans are emerging at just the same moment when China has emerged - and indeed may displace America - at the center of the global scene. What does it mean to be Chinese American in this moment? And how does exploring that question alter our notions of just what an American is and will be?

In many ways, Chinese Americans today are exemplars of the American Dream: during a crowded century and a half, this community has gone from indentured servitude, second-class status and outright exclusion to economic and social integration and achievement. But this narrative obscures too much: the Chinese Americans still left behind, the erosion of the American Dream in general, the emergence—perhaps—of a Chinese Dream, and how other Americans will look at their countrymen of Chinese descent if China and America ever become adversaries. As Chinese Americans reconcile competing beliefs about what constitutes success, virtue, power, and purpose, they hold a mirror up to their country in a time of deep flux.

In searching, often personal essays that range from the meaning of Confucius to the role of Chinese Americans in shaping how we read the Constitution to why he hates the hyphen in "Chinese-American," Eric Liu pieces together a sense of the Chinese American identity in these auspicious years for both countries. He considers his own public career in American media and government; his daughter's efforts to hold and release aspects of her Chinese inheritance; and the still-recent history that made anyone Chinese in America seem foreign and disloyal until proven otherwise. Provocative, often playful but always thoughtful, Liu breaks down his vast subject into bite-sized chunks, along the way providing insights into universal matters: identity, nationalism, family, and more.

Award-winning poet Brandon Shimoda has crafted a lyrical portrait of his paternal grandfather, Midori Shimoda, whose life—child migrant, talented photographer, suspected enemy alien and spy, desert wanderer, American citizen—mirrors the arc of Japanese America in the twentieth century. In a series of pilgrimages, Shimoda records the search to find his grandfather, and unfolds, in the process, a moving elegy on memory and forgetting.

Praise for The Grave on the Wall:

"Shimoda brings his poetic lyricism to this moving and elegant memoir, the structure of which reflects the fragmentation of memories. … It is at once wistful and devastating to see Midori's life come full circle … In between is a life with tragedy, love, and the horrors unleashed by the atomic bomb."—Booklist, starred review

"In a weaving meditation, Brandon Shimoda pens an elegant eulogy for his grandfather Midori, yet also for the living, we who survive on the margins of graveyards and rituals of our own making."—Karen Tei Yamashita, author of Letters to Memory

"Sometimes a work of art functions as a dream. At other times, a work of art functions as a conscience. In the tradition of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, Brandon Shimoda's The Grave on the Wall is both. It is also the type of fragmented reckoning only America could instigate."—Myriam Gurba, author of Mean

“Within this haunted sepulcher built out of silence, loss, and grief—its walls shadowed by the traumas of racial oppression and violence—a green river lined with peach trees flows beneath a bridge that leads back to the grandson."—Jeffrey Yang, author of Hey, Marfa: Poems

"It is part dream, part memory, part forgetting, part identity. It is a remarkable exploration of how citizenship is forged by the brutal US imperial forces—through slave labor, forced detention, indiscriminate bombing, historical amnesia and wall. If someone asked me, Where are you from? I would answer, From The Grave on the Wall."—Don Mee Choi, author of Hardly War

"Shimoda intercedes into the absences, gaps and interstices of the present and delves the presence of mystery. This mystery is part of each of us. Shimoda outlines that mystery in silence and silhouette, in objects left behind at site-specific travels to Japan and in the disparate facts of his grandpa’s FBI file. Gratitude to Brandon Shimoda for taking on the mystery which only literature accepts as the basic challenge."—Sesshu Foster, author of City of the Future

"Shimoda is a mystic writer … He puts what breaches itself (always) onto the page, so that the act of writing becomes akin to paper-making: an attention to fibers, coagulation, texture and the water-fire mixtures that signal irreversible alteration or change. … he has written a book that touches the bottom of my own soul."—Bhanu Kapil, author of Ban en Banlieue

The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California—fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.

“Impeccably timed, intimately reported, and beautifully expressed.”—The New York Times

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW • WINNER OF THE RIDENHOUR BOOK PRIZE • SILVER WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, the United States was a distant fantasy to identical twins Ernesto and Raul Flores—until, at age seventeen, a deadly threat from the region’s brutal gangs forces them to flee the only home they’ve ever known. In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the Flores twins as they make their way across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court, while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of teenage life with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience.

FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE • SHORTLISTED FOR THE J. ANTHONY LUKAS BOOK PRIZE • LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/BOGRAD WELD PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY

“[This] beautifully written book . . . can be read as a supplement to the current news, a chronicle of the problems that Central Americans are fleeing and the horrors they suffer in flight. But it transcends the crisis. Markham’s deep, frank reporting is also useful in thinking ahead to the challenges of assimilation, for the struggling twins and many others like them. . . . Her reporting is intimate and detailed, and her tone is a special pleasure. Trustworthy, calm, decent, it offers refuge from a world consumed by Twitter screeds and cable news demagogues. . . . A generous book for an ungenerous age.”—Jason DeParle, The New York Review of Books

“You should read The Far Away Brothers. We all should.”—NPR

“This is the sort of news that is the opposite of fake. . . . Markham is our knowing, compassionate ally, our guide in sorting out, up close, how our new national immigration policy is playing out from a human perspective. . . . An important book.”—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
An eye-opening account of life inside North Korea—a closed world of increasing global importance—hailed as a “tour de force of meticulous reporting” (The New York Review of Books)
 
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
 
In this landmark addition to the literature of totalitarianism, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il (the father of Kim Jong-un), and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population.
 
Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. She takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.

Praise for Nothing to Envy

“Provocative . . . offers extensive evidence of the author’s deep knowledge of this country while keeping its sights firmly on individual stories and human details.”—The New York Times

“Deeply moving . . . The personal stories are related with novelistic detail.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A tour de force of meticulous reporting.”—The New York Review of Books

“Excellent . . . humanizes a downtrodden, long-suffering people whose individual lives, hopes and dreams are so little known abroad.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The narrow boundaries of our knowledge have expanded radically with the publication of Nothing to Envy. . . . Elegantly structured and written, [it] is a groundbreaking work of literary nonfiction.”—John Delury, Slate

“At times a page-turner, at others an intimate study in totalitarian psychology.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[E]ntertaining, bracingly honest and, yes, thought-provoking.”—The New York Times Book Review

At once provocative and laugh-out-loud funny, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ignited a global parenting debate with its story of one mother’s journey in strict parenting.  Amy Chua argues that Western parenting tries to respect and nurture children’s individuality, while Chinese parents typically believe that arming children with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence prepares them best for the future.   Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the Chinese way – and the remarkable, sometimes heartbreaking  results her choice inspires.  Achingly honest and profoundly challenging, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is one of the most talked-about books of our times.

“Few have the guts to parent in public. Amy [Chua]'s memoir is brutally honest, and her willingness to share her struggles is a gift. Whether or not you agree with her priorities and approach, she should be applauded for raising these issues with a thoughtful, humorous and authentic voice.” —Time Magazine

“[A] riveting read… Chua's story is far more complicated and interesting than what you've heard to date -- and well worth picking up… I guarantee that if you read the book, there'll undoubtedly be places where you'll cringe in recognition, and others where you'll tear up in empathy.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother hit the parenting hot button, but also a lot more, including people's complicated feelings about ambition, intellectualism, high culture, the Ivy League, strong women and America's standing in a world where China is ascendant. Chua's conviction that hard work leads to inner confidence is a resonant one.”—Chicago Tribune

“Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents… Readers of all stripes will respond to [Battle Hymn of the] Tiger Mother.”—The Washington Post
From the author of The Latehomecomer, a powerful memoir of her father, a Hmong song poet who sacrificed his gift for his children's future in America

In the Hmong tradition, the song poet recounts the story of his people, their history and tragedies, joys and losses; extemporizing or drawing on folk tales, he keeps the past alive, invokes the spirits and the homeland, and records courtships, births, weddings, and wishes.

Following her award-winning book The Latehomecomer, Kao Kalia Yang now retells the life of her father Bee Yang, the song poet, a Hmong refugee in Minnesota, driven from the mountains of Laos by American's Secret War. Bee lost his father as a young boy and keenly felt his orphanhood. He would wander from one neighbor to the next, collecting the things they said to each other, whispering the words to himself at night until, one day, a song was born. Bee sings the life of his people through the war-torn jungle and a Thai refugee camp. But the songs fall away in the cold, bitter world of a Minneapolis housing project and on the factory floor until, with the death of Bee's mother, the songs leave him for good. But before they do, Bee, with his poetry, has polished a life of poverty for his children, burnished their grim reality so that they might shine.

Written with the exquisite beauty for which Kao Kalia Yang is renowned, The Song Poet is a love story -- of a daughter for her father, a father for his children, a people for their land, their traditions, and all that they have lost.

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