Reviews for Triple Package : How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America

Book News Reviews
Chua and Rubenfeld explore why certain minority and immigrant groups in the US are strikingly high achievers regarding wealth, position, and other conventional measures of success. They identify three forces that, existing together within a group's culture, foster success while running counter to the core American values. The first is a deeply internalized superiority complex enabling group members to believe in their specialness, exceptionality, or superiority, in contrast to the American emphasis on equality. Most Americans imagine positive self-esteem is a key to success, but Chua and Rubenfeld found feelings of insecurity--the second factor--common to successful groups as a motivator to prove themselves. The third factor is greater impulse control enabling some groups to resist temptation and persevere in the face of difficulty, as opposed to the mainstream American tendency toward immediate gratification. The authors also identify potential drawbacks to the "Triple Package" and other causes of success and nonsuccess. They close by examining how the US as a nation began with the "Triple Package," but has evolved away from the three values over time. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Kirkus Reviews 2013 December #2
Husband and wife professors at Yale Law School explore why some cultural groups in the United States are generally more successful than others. Chua made waves in 2011 with her controversial best-selling book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which contrasted the high-expectation stance of a certain kind of Chinese mother with that of the relatively relaxed style of most other mothers in America. This book explores the reasons why some groups, such as those of Asian heritage, are succeeding disproportionately to their numbers in the population at large. (Yes, tiger mothering has something to do with it.) Why do Asian-Americans dominate admissions at the Ivy League and other top universities? Why are so many Nobel Prize winners Jewish? Why are there so many Mormon CEOs? Why are Nigerian-born Americans overrepresented among doctorates and MDs? Chua and Rubenfeld (The Death Instinct, 2010, etc.) 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: Each views their group as special (think of the Jewish idea of "the chosen people"); each has instilled in them an insecurity about their worthiness that can only be palliated by achievement; and each is taught the values of impulse control and hard work. The authors claim 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. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 September #1

Yale Law School professors Chua (the Tiger Mom herself) and husband Rubenfeld argue that the triumph of certain cultural groups in America--e.g., Mormons in business and the highly paid Chinese Americans and Jews--results from three principles: members of such groups believe the group is exceptional, still feel they must prove themselves, and work for future goals instead of immediate satisfaction. Controversial.

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Library Journal Reviews 2014 February #1

Most Americans have observed that some ethnic or religious groups seem disproportionately successful; they wonder why. Chua (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) and Rubenfeld (The Interpretation of Murder), professors at Yale Law School and wife and husband, researched the question. They focused on several groups--Mormons, Jews, Indians, Nigerians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese, and Cubans--and came up with a general theory. They provide empirical evidence that each group is economically successful above the average of most Americans and likewise, in most cases, hold status positions well above the norm. The traits these groups share seem to be threefold, as per the title. They tend to have a "superiority complex," seeing themselves as special in some way, e.g., by possessing an ancient heritage or considering themselves chosen by God. Second, their place in larger society is insecure owing to either recent immigration, historic prejudice, or outright discrimination. Third, their culture inculcates hard work along with discipline in what Chua and Rubenfeld call "impulse control." Interestingly, the final chapter broadens the thesis to the United States as a whole and questions the country's ongoing utility. VERDICT This is popular sociology at its best: well researched, heavily noted, and clearly written. Not for specialists, it is recommended to all curious general readers and is likely to promote debate.--David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 December #3

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. Studying the more material measures of success-- income, occupational status, and test scores--the authors found, for example, that Mormons occupy leading positions in politics and business; the Ivy League admission rates of West Indian and African immigrant groups far exceed those of non-immigrant American blacks (a group left behind by these measures); and Indian and Jewish Americans have the highest incomes. 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, the authors also analyze each trait as they explore the experience of other rising cultural groups: Chinese-Americans, Iranians, Cubans, and others. 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. Agents: Tina Bennett, William Morris Endeavor (Chua), Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor (Rubenfeld). (Feb.)

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