In Brief: Eric Liu’s A Chinaman’s Chance

In A Chinaman’s Chance, TIME contributor and former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu weaves between history, politics, linguistics and memoir as he explores the significance of being Chinese American. (He eschews the hyphen often placed between those two words, for reasons he explains in one of the brief asides between chapters.) A recurring idea is that some Chinese values, particularly the Confucian sense of obligation, can help foster “a vision of patriotism in America that’s more about barn raising and D-Day and less about rugged individualism and lone cowboys.” Liu’s rhetorical flourishes are often breathless and mundane (“This was an age when thesis and antithesis sat side by side without any imminent prospect of synthesis.”), but that’s forgivable. This book has the potential to enlighten both well-intentioned Whites who think discussions of race are unnecessary or oversensitive, and Chinese (and other Asian) Americans struggling with questions of identity.
-Published July 8th by Public Affairs


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