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The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America [Kindle Edition]

Amy Chua , Jed Rubenfeld
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.95
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

"That certain groups do much better in America than othersas measured by income, occupational status, test scores, and so onis difficult to talk about. In large part this is because the topic feels racially charged. The irony is that the facts actually debunk racial stereotypes. There are black and Hispanic subgroups in the United States far outperforming many white and Asian subgroups. Moreover, there’s a demonstrable arc to group successin immigrant groups, it typically dissipates by the third generationpuncturing the notion of innate group differences and undermining the whole concept of 'model minorities.'"

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. A superiority complex, insecurity, impulse control—these are the elements of the Triple Package, the rare and potent cultural constellation that drives disproportionate group success. The Triple Package is open to anyone. America itself was once a Triple Package culture. It’s been losing that edge for a long time now. Even as headlines proclaim the death of upward mobility in America, the truth is that the oldfashioned American Dream is very much alive—butsome groups have a cultural edge, which enables them to take advantage of opportunity far more than others.

• Americans are taught that everyone is equal, that no group is superior to another. But remarkably, all of America’s most successful groups believe (even

if they don’t say so aloud) that they’re exceptional, chosen, superior in some way.

• Americans are taught that self-esteem—feeling good about yourself—is the key to a successful life. But in all of America’s most successful groups,

people tend to feel insecure, inadequate, that they have to prove themselves.

• America today spreads a message of immediate gratification, living for the moment. But all of America’s most successful groups cultivate heightened discipline and impulse control.

But the Triple Package has a dark underside too. Each of its elements carries distinctive pathologies; when taken to an extreme, they can have truly toxic effects. Should people strive for the Triple Package? Should America? Ultimately, the authors conclude that the Triple Package is a ladder that should be climbed and then kicked away, drawing on its power but breaking free from its constraints.

Provocative and profound, The Triple Package will transform the way we think about success and achievement.

Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed):
“In their provocative new book, Chua (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) and Rubenfeld (The Interpretation of Murder)—Yale Law professors and spouses—show why certain groups in the U.S. perform better than others. According to the authors, three traits breed success: a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control. Only when this ‘Triple Package’ comes together does it ‘generate drive, grit, and systematic disproportionate group success.’ Supported by statistics and original research….This comprehensive, lucid sociological study balances its findings with a probing look at the downsides of the triple package—the burden of carrying a family’s expectations, and deep insecurities that come at a psychological price.”

Kirkus Reviews:
“Husband and wife professors at Yale Law School explore why some cultural groups in the United States are generally more successful than others. Chua and Rubenfeld argue that each of these groups is endowed with a “triple package” of values that together make for a potent engine driving members to high rates of success….[and] that the U.S. was originally a triple-package nation. However, while Americans still view their country as exceptional, in the last 30 years, the other two parts of the package have gone out the window, replaced by a popular culture that values egalitarianism, self-esteem and instant gratification, creating a vacuum for more motivated groups to fill. On a highly touchy subject, the authors tread carefully, backing their assertions with copious notes. Though coolly and cogently argued, this book is bound to be the spark for many potentially heated discussions.”

About the Author

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld are professors at Yale Law School. Chua, one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2011, is the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which unleashed a firestorm debate about the cultural value of self-discipline, as well as the bestselling World on Fire. Rubenfeld examined the political dangers of “living in the moment” in Freedom and Time; he is also the author of the international bestseller The Interpretation of Murder.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
195 of 216 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting But Overly Simplistic Thesis February 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"The Triple Package" is an attempt by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld to explain the economic success of certain ethnic groups. Their thesis is that the economic success of these groups can be adequately explained by three cultural traits (NOT genetic or racial characteristics). These three traits are a superiority complex, a sense of insecurity, and impulse control. The authors focus on the following successful groups: Indian, Iranian, Lebanese, Nigerian, Cuban, Chinese, Mormons, and Jews. They contrast these groups from African Americans, Hispanics, and the general American population.

Claims of Racism:
First, let me begin by stating that "The Triple Package" is NOT a racist book as portrayed by the media. Nor is it a "semi-racist" book as one reviewer put it. At no place in the book do the authors assert that certain racial or ethnic groups are intrinsically superior - although they do claim that successful ethnic groups may view themselves as superior or privileged in some way. Nor do the authors assert that certain racial or ethnic groups are intrinsically inferior to another group. In fact, the authors explicitly claim that key cultural features explain a group's economic success, and that such success is not the result of genetics or any inherent racial or ethnic characteristic. Thus, anyone who states that the authors are making racist claims - i.e. asserting the inherent racial superiority (or inferiority) of one group over another -- has simply not read the book or has severe difficulties with simple reading comprehension.

Second, many of the negative reviewers seem to dismiss the empirical information the authors present. That is, it is an empirical fact that many immigrant groups tend to achieve high levels of economic success in America.
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159 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addresses the 'Elephant in the Room' February 4, 2014
Why do some rise from humble beginnings to great achievements, while many others don't? Finally, we get someone with credibility to expose the elephant in the room - the fact that some cultures are far more successful in fostering academic achievement than others. Granted, academic achievement is far from being the sole determinant of success, no matter how you might define that term, but it certainly is key ingredient to STEM success, as well as having the opportunity and ability to launch a Silicon Valley startup - talents we're sorely lacking vs. many of our Asian competitors. Obvious 'more successful' cultures - those of Chinese/Japanese/South Korean (Confucianism followers) origin, as well as others with significant Jewish heritage - plain as day to all of us high-school students decades ago. Authors Chua/Rubenfeld also add several other groups, including Indian-Americans. Indian-American pupils have won the Scripps National Spelling Bee 11 out of the last 15 years, including the last six years straight.

More specifics: Of the 141 U.S. Presidential Scholars in 2012, 48 were Asian Americans (52 in 2011) - mostly Chinese and Indian. Asian-American SAT scores average 143 points of the U.S. average - including 63 points over whites, and that gap is increasing. While just 5% of the population, they comprise 19% of the undergraduates at Harvard, 16% at Yale, 19% at Princeton, 19% at Stanford, and many suspect there's a 'glass ceiling' that limits their admissions below what they would be based on National Merit Scholarships and SAT scores. Intel Science Talent Searches over the last five years have picked 23 Asian-Americans (mostly Indian and Chinese) of the top 50. Asians and Asian-Americans represent 30-50% of enrollees in leading U.S.
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77 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read the entire book before you judge February 4, 2014
People love to paint arguments that they don't like as racist or culturally supremacist. I challenge those who are skeptical to read the entire book and judge it based on what's within its pages, rather than what the media is portraying the author to be. Chua certainly could have put her argument more tactfully, and I believe she should have. But her underlying points are sound. I'll try to explain.

No doubt many critics will attack Chua and Rubenfeld for a narrow definition of success. While it's true that "success" is defined in different ways by different people, that's not the point of this book. Chua and Rubenfeld readily acknowledge that academic achievement and high income don't automatically indicate success, that a fulfilling life has many more aspects than a prestigious school or career. The authors are sparking a much-needed conversation about culture and education, about child raising, and yes, about how the differences in these things across ethic divides can have profound effects on future generations and on this country as a whole.

Chua says the three traits are "superiority", "insecurity", and "impulse control". Her choice of words here can no doubt be better, but once again it's the underlying premise that we should be considering. In a way, Chua is saying that we should check our self-esteem with modesty, continuously seek to learn and improve, and balance daily gratification with long-term investment. The "Triple Package", whether you believe in the term or not, are traits that can be attained by all people for their own individual definitions of success, not just to pursue academic success.
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