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The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness and Hope Hardcover – October 18, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] sparkling debut [and] a welcome reminder that America was built by immigrants in search of a better future for their children." (Kirkus)

"Kolker’s explorations teach and entertain with their curiosity, can-do spirit, and vibrant bouquet of cultures and customs." (Publishers Weekly)

“What a fabulous, fun, eye-opening read: Colorful writing with a flair is not incompatible with deep insight and wisdom!” (Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance-- and Why they Fall and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother)

“Live like an immigrant...How rare to find an intelligent, engrossing book that doubles as a dispensary! The Immigrant Advantage is chock-full of novel, useful prescriptions for a happy, healthy life.” (Daphne Miller, MD, author of The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World, Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You)

“Such a smart and thrilling ride. I had no idea I was surrounded by daily exotic adventures until I opened The Immigrant Advantage. Now that I've read it, I can't wait to live it.” (Christopher McDougall, author of The New York Times bestseller Born to Run)

“A wonderful positive portrayal of immigrant customs and contributions much needed and much welcome at a time of so much confusion about the foreign-born who live among us.” (Kyriakos S. Markides, Ph.D., Annie & John Gnitzinger Distinguished Professor of Aging Studies, University of Texas)

Named one of O Magazine’s 10 Titles to Pick Up Now

About the Author

Claudia Kolker is an award-winning journalist who has reported from Mexico, El Salvador, the Caribbean, Japan and India. A former Los Angeles Times bureau chief and former member of The Houston Chronicle editorial board, she has also written for The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, and Salon. She lives in Houston with her family.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416586822
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416586821
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #753,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not only does the author discover and report on many best practices immigrants bring with them to the United States (Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Jamaican, and more), she tries them out on herself, her family, and her friends to see how they translate for the rest of us. The result is a hilarious, insightful, thought-provoking, and not-at-all dry or academic book. It made me what to ditch many of my American-centric ways and "live like an immigrant." I loved it from start to finish (Reader, I did!)
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Format: Hardcover
In The Immigrant Advantage author Claudia Kolker offers a fresh, jaunty narrative that informs and delights. She deftly mixes sound research with personal experience, having been raised by parents who were immigrants--her mother from Mexico and her father from Ukraine. In her many interviews with immigrants about customs in their native lands, Kolker asks a few guiding questions then steps out of the way, allowing the flow of cultural wisdom. She watches reverently, as do we.

I felt that this book opened my eyes and ears to the valuable stories told by the newcomers around me. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who might never think to put "immigrant" and "advantage" together in the same sentence.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book that many people can benefit from. But what is even more appreciable is Claudia Kolker's approach - what can we learn from others? A perspective that readers can take with them long after they finish this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The first attraction of this book for me was the word "Advantage" in the title.
Perhaps I'm not reading this book with the full cultural depth that the author intended because I'm looking as much for quick life lessons as for compelling stories and human drama. My logic is that when it comes to suggestions on the craft of living a well led life evidence and history of success are important. Practices and ideas that result in improved money management, improved diet, improved social skills, etc. are a little suspect if they were only invented yesterday. They might work, they might not. But if you tell me about something that's worked for hundreds of years and is still working today and on different continents... Well, suddenly I'm interested...
Self-help books have become associated with with fly-by-night fashion- fad diets, pop psychology, how to beat Wall Street, etc. This book is not like that. It's the antithesis of a top-down book with an infomercial doctor telling you about his latest solution to whatever problem you may have (conveniently for sale from him). This is a bottom-up book with the author investigating grass roots customs which have actually, statistically, proven successful over the long haul...
Some ideas I like.
- The Vietnamese Money Club. How do you measure your friendships? A real friend for me is someone I would trust as my banker. That idea from Immigrant Advantage was a revelation because it's so obviously true. I would trust some friends more with my money than I would an actual professional banker. And why not? Friends are people you know inside and out. I don't even know the name of my banker. Vietnamese go one step further and actually act on the idea. Their friends really are their bankers.
Read more ›
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By DrMom on September 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Claudia was my neighbor in Houston. Her twin daughters are probably my own daughter's "very best friends in the entire world." That's why I bought the book. I read the book because I wanted to know what Claudia had written when she was secreted away all those months in far-away locations. I was utterly impressed. I envied the women who had family members/friends with them during those first months of motherhood. I loved reading about Mike and the girls. The ways that other cultures rely on their families fascinated me, probably because I don't live it myself. My own immediate family members are at least 500 miles away and although I can see how coming together into one home is beneficial for all generations, I would have to undergo a complete paradigm shift to make it work for me. I confess, the book made me more than a little homesick for my miniature townhouse in the fourth ward (I'm now a Denver suburbanite and have to travel for what seems like forever to find pho!). Thank you Claudia for this book. It opened my mind and my heart to potential within my own family, especially as we enter a time when the "elders" in my family need the help of the next generation.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! Claudia Kolker's THE IMMIGRANT ADVANTAGE: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness, and Hope cheered me no end about our multicultural American milieu. Kolker writes with warm intelligence about Vietnamese money clubs, how Mexican families take care of their new mothers, how assisted marriage works for South Asians, the benefits of afterschools for Korean and Chinese children, the joy of multigenerational West Indian households, the relief of subscribing to home-cooked Vietnamese meals, and the safety and vitality in neighborhood camaraderie. I learned a great deal, and was enormously entertained by the very human stories Kolker shared of immigrants and her own life. I especially liked the way the book is structured, beginning with her curiosity about how the money club worked, through deepening understanding of immigrant customs of caring for one another through food, shelter, education, and marriage, and finally coming full circle to the formation of her own money club. It's a very satisfying read--heartwarming, inspiring, and a treasure for the psyche of the larger community. I'll recommend it widely.
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