How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America
by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld
The Penguin Press
Book Review by Kam Williams
“Despite America’s ideas about equality, some groups in this country do better than others. Mormons have recently risen to astonishing business success. Cubans in Miami climbed from poverty to prosperity in a generation.
Nigerians earn doctorates at stunningly high rates. Indian and Chinese Americans have much higher incomes than other Americans; Jews may have the highest of all.
Why do some groups rise? Drawing on groundbreaking original research and startling statistics, The Triple Package uncovers the secret to their success.”
– Excerpted from the Inside Book Jacket
Time was when analyzing the achievement gap in the United States was literally as simple as black and white. For instance, back in 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan conducted an incendiary sociological study attributing the persistence of poverty in the African-American community on a disintegration of the nuclear family directly traceable to slavery.
A few years later, citing the Moynihan Report, an advisory commission formed by President Johnson predicted that the country was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white–separate and unequal.” In 1994, Charles Murray published “The Bell Curve,” a controversial tome promoting genetics as a scientific explanation for the marked difference in African and Caucasian-Americans’ I.Q. scores.
A couple of years later, in a book entitled “The End of Racism,” arch-conservative Dinesh D’Souza argued that black failure could no longer be blamed on white racism. He instead indicted what he referred to as the Civil Rights Industry, before calling for an end to Affirmative Action programs, the Civil Rights Act and other government initiatives designed to benefit African-Americans.
Today, the U.S. is awash in cultural diversity. Consider the 2010 Census, which offered 14 options for one to check off when it came to race. Thus, it makes sense that a present-day discussion of identifiable discrepancies in achievement might be widened to include many other groups besides blacks and whites.
A couple of Yale law professors, the husband-wife team of Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, undertook that herculean effort. And they’ve published the fruits of their painstaking-research in The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. The opus’ title was inspired by the crucial attributes shared by outperforming ethnicities, specifically: a superiority complex, a sense of insecurity, and the ability to delay gratification.
Because the text talks in broad generalities, the authors will undoubtedly receive their fair share of criticism for stereotyping. Still, ithe response is likely to be far less vituperative than the righteous outrage aimed at Messrs. Moynihan, Murray and D’Souza in their respective days. After all, Chua and Rubenfeld ostensibly have no racial ax to grind.
Rather, they seem more interested in disseminating the good news that the path to success is readily available to everyone, since the Triple Package is “a set of values and beliefs, habits and practices, that individuals from any background can make a part of their lives.” A thought-provoking primer on gaining the competitive edge in the pursuit of the American Dream.
To order a copy of The Triple Package, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/