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At a time when most Chinese in the United States
were living in a defensive crouch, these three brothers were making waves
THE MOY BROTHERS, late 19th century Chinese immigrants
to America, crossed lines and broke barriers. Tough men whose lives were hemmed
in by prejudice and restrictive laws, they were scrappy and ambitious, and they
were in the U.S. to stay. In an era when Chinese were excluded from America’s
shores and most already here kept their heads down, they stood up and spoke out
against injustices. They fought for their countrymen and used all means
available to get ahead, up to and including committing petty crimes and, in the
case of one brother, heinous ones.
Three Tough Chinamen
tells stories of
outwitting laws that mandated that Chinese accept third-class status if they
desired even a small share in the American dream.
BROTHERS did what they had to do to succeed and
prosper, and their
tales offer a window into the lives of America’s Chinese at the turn of the
20th century. They tell of navigating obstacles and of culture clash, and of how
Western ethics and laws fared among Asian immigrants when they went head to
head, as they inevitably had to, against ancient values like clan loyalty, and
against personal interests and greed.