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

Front Cover
HMH, Sep 15, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
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

What people are saying - Write a review

THE LUCKY ONES: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America

User Review  - Kirkus

A century in the saga of a Chinese American family.In 1864, 12-year-old Joseph Tape—formerly Jeu Dip—arrived in San Francisco from Guangdong Province in China. Young Joseph worked hard, succeeded in ... Read full review


That Chinese Girl
Chinatowns Frontier
Suburban Squire
The Chinese Village
Blood and Fire

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

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.

Bibliographic information