The Lucky Ones by Mae Ngai

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"Ms. Ngai's narrative lags from time to time—not all the Tapes are as interesting as Mamie—but she paints a colorful portrait of a little-known segment of the U.S. immigrant population and its struggle to be American.
-WSJ online

Synopsis


The Lucky Ones uncovers the story of the Tape family in post-gold rush, racially explosive San Francisco. Mae Ngai paints a fascinating picture of how the role of immigration broker allowed patriarch Jeu Dip (Joseph Tape) to both protest and profit from discrimination, and of the Tapes as the first of a new social type--middle-class Chinese Americans.


Tape family history illuminates American history. Seven-year-old Mamie attempts to integrate California schools, resulting in the landmark 1885 case Tape v. Hurley. The family's intimate involvement in the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair reveals how Chinese American brokers essentially invented Chinatown, and so Chinese culture, for American audiences. Finally, The Lucky Ones reveals aspects--timely, haunting, and hopeful--of the lasting legacy of the immigrant experience for all Americans.


This expanded edition features a new preface and a selection of historical documents from the Chinese exclusion era that forms the backdrop to the Tape family's story.

 

About Mae Ngai

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MAE NGAI's Impossible Subjects, on illegal immigration, 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.
 
Published September 15, 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 317 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Melanie Kirkpatrick on Sep 15 2010

"Ms. Ngai's narrative lags from time to time—not all the Tapes are as interesting as Mamie—but she paints a colorful portrait of a little-known segment of the U.S. immigrant population and its struggle to be American.

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