From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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Most critics agreed that Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an entertaining read—lively and humorous, written with the intent to shock. More controversial is Chua’s stereotyping of Chinese and Western cultures, not to mention her authoritarian parenting methods. Critics judged the book largely by asking the following questions: Should self-esteem come before accomplishment, or accomplishment before self-esteem? If the latter, should it be achieved by threats and constant monitoring? Chua’s teenage daughters are undeniably accomplished, but at what emotional cost? While some reviewers found that Chua’s technique borders on abuse and her writing was, at best, self-serving, others were impressed by her parenting results and opined that the West could learn a few things from this remarkably driven Chinese American mother.