Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Amy Chua, Penguin Press, $25.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-59420-284-1
Chua (Day of Empire) imparts the secret behind the stereotypical Asian child's phenomenal success: the Chinese mother. Chua promotes what has traditionally worked very well in raising children: strict, Old World, uncompromising values—and the parents don't have to be Chinese. What they are, however, are different from what she sees as indulgent and permissive Western parents: stressing academic performance above all, never accepting a mediocre grade, insisting on drilling and practice, and instilling respect for authority. Chua and her Jewish husband (both are professors at Yale Law) raised two girls, and her account of their formative years achieving amazing success in school and music performance proves both a model and a cautionary tale. Sophia, the eldest, was dutiful and diligent, leapfrogging over her peers in academics and as a Suzuki piano student; Lulu was also gifted, but defiant, who excelled at the violin but eventually balked at her mother's pushing. Chua's efforts "not to raise a soft, entitled child" will strike American readers as a little scary—removing her children from school for extra practice, public shaming and insults, equating Western parenting with failure—but the results, she claims somewhat glibly in this frank, unapologetic report card, "were hard to quarrel with." (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/15/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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