The story of West Indian immigrants to the United States is generally considered to be a great success. Mary Waters, however, tells a very different story. She finds that the values that gain first-generation immigrants initial success--a willingness to work hard, a lack of attention to racism, a desire for education, an incentive to save--are undermined by the realities of life and race relations in the United States. Contrary to long-held beliefs, Waters finds, those who resist Americanization are most likely to succeed economically, especially in the second generation.

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