A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream

A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream

by Eric Liu

Paperback(First Trade Paper Edition)

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610396301
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 02/23/2016
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Eric Liu is the founder and CEO of Citizen University (citizenuniversity.us) and executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including A Chinaman's Chance, The Gardens of Democracy, and The Accidental Asian. Eric served as a White House speechwriter and policy adviser for President Bill Clinton. He is a regular columnist for CNN.com and a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com.

Table of Contents

Prologue vii

Chapter 1 What Confucius Didn't Say 1

Mr. Robinson 29

Chapter 2 Mother Tongue 31

A Guide to Punctuation 49

Chapter 3 Overseas Chinese 51

Lius in the News 75

Chapter 4 Destiny of the Nation 77

Counterfactual 105

Chapter 5 Letter and Spirit 107

The Iron Chink 145

Chapter 6 Performance 147

Fidelity, Or, the Impossibility of Translating a Poem 181

Chapter 7 Father Tongue 183

Epilogue 207

Acknowledgments 211

For Further Reading 213

Credits 219

Index 221

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