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The Accidental Asian

Notes of a Native Speaker

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Beyond black and white, native and alien, lies a vast and fertile field of human experience. It is here that Eric Liu, former speechwriter for President Clinton and noted political commentator, invites us to explore.

In these compellingly candid essays, Liu reflects on his life as a second-generation Chinese American and reveals the shifting frames of ethnic identity. Finding himself unable to read a Chinese memorial book about his father's life, he looks critically at the cost of his own assimilation. But he casts an equally questioning eye on the effort to sustain vast racial categories like “Asian American.” And as he surveys the rising anxiety about China's influence, Liu illuminates the space that Asians have always occupied in the American imagination. Reminiscent of the work of James Baldwin and its unwavering honesty, The Accidental Asian introduces a powerful and elegant voice into the discussion of what it means to be an American.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 04, 1998 – In this candid, well-crafted memoir, Liu, a former speechwriter for President Clinton, explores his identity as a second-generation Chinese American. Although he was raised to assimilate, Liu recalls that his discomfort as an adolescent when trying to fit in was problematical because his hair and skin tone marked him as different from those around him. He also shares haunting memories of traveling to China and visiting his grandmother in Manhattan's Chinatown, events that engendered ambivalent emotions both of alienation from and attraction to his heritage. Liu's concerns about the concept of "Asian American," which he regards as based on physical characteristics rather than shared ethnicity, are rendered thoughtfully, as are his positive feelings about intermarriage. (His wife is a white Southerner with a Jewish grandmother.) He is impassioned, however, about the fallout from a scandal surrounding the activities of democratic fund-raiser John Huang. When Liu calls New York Times columnist William Safire "a Jew and defender of Jews" for unfairly stereotyping Asian Americans because of Huang's questionable actions, this strikes a discordant note. Author tour.
The Accidental Asian
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Sep 07, 1999
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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