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Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve Hardcover – September 19, 2017

4.8 out of 5 stars 193 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“No reporter has gone as deep as she has into what makes Chinese and American schools different today, or given more reasons we should not copy the Chinese. Yet her rollicking account has hope for both cultures, because they share a deep interest in what children learn.” (Washington Post)

“Chu’s narrative is told with the honesty of a journalist, allowing readers to understand the conclusions she draws from her journey but also to form their own view of Chinese education. For anyone who wishes to expand their understanding about Chinese society and its impact on education.” (Library Journal, starred review)

 “This book had me at page one! Whip smart, hilariously funny, and shocking. A must-read.” (Amy Chua, author of The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package)

“Anyone will understand [China] better after reading this book…. Chu vividly sketches these differences [between Chinese and American school systems] in terms that will make readers ponder what they actually think about rote memorization and parents question their preferences for their own children.” (New York Times)

“This engaging narrative is personalized by Chu’s often humorous recollections of attending American schools as the daughter of immigrants. Little Soldiers offers fascinating peeks inside the world’s largest educational system and at the future intellectual “soldiers” American kids will be facing.” (Booklist)

“Undoubtedly revealing, fascinating, and filled with ‘aha’ moments.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“This is a rare look inside the gates of Chinese schools that helps demystify many traits and behaviors of the Chinese people.” (Deborah Fallows, contributing writer for The Atlantic and author of Dreaming in Chinese)

“Lenora Chu, a gifted journalist, has written a fascinating comparison of the US and Shanghai education systems. Little Soldiers offers important insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each. There is much to be learned here about the elements of a better education system for the 21st century.” (Tony Wagner, Expert in Residence, Harvard University Innovation Lab and author of The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators)

“An investigative look at the Chinese educational system and how it produces such a large number of high-performing students.” (Book Riot)

“This provocative investigation examines cultural differences between the East and West, and the benefits and shortcomings of how both approach education.” (Real Simple, “The Best New Books to Read This Month”)

From the Back Cover

When American journalist Lenora Chu moved to Shanghai with her little boy, Rainey, just down the street from the state-run school—the best, as far as elite Chinese were concerned—she faced an important decision: Should she entrust her rambunctious young son to the Chinese public schools?

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and so began Rainey’s immersion in one of the most radical school systems on the planet. Almost immediately, the three-year-old began to develop surprising powers of concentration and became proficient in early math. Yet Chu also noticed disturbing new behaviors: Whereas he used to scribble and explore, Rainey was now obsessed with staying inside the lines. He became fearful of authority figures. “If you want me to do it, I’ll do it,” he told a stranger who had asked whether he liked to sing.

Driven by parental concern, Chu embarked on an investigative mission: What price do the Chinese pay to produce their “smart” kids, and what lessons might Western parents and educators learn from this system? 

In her search for answers, Chu followed Chinese students, teachers, and experts, pulling back the curtain on a military-style education system in which even the youngest kids submit to high-stakes tests and parents are crippled by the pressure to compete. Yet as Chu delved deeper, she discovered surprising upsides, such as the benefits of memorization, competition as a motivator, and the Chinese cultural belief in hard work over innate talent.

Lively and intimate, beautifully written and reported, Little Soldiers asks us to reconsider the true value and purpose of education, as China and the West compete for the political and economic dominance of a new generation.


Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
  • Hardcover : 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0062367854
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0062367853
  • Product Dimensions : 1.4 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Publisher : Harper; First Edition (September 19, 2017)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 193 ratings

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
193 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

Nsh36
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and well-written!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 20, 2020
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Lilly Z
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 23, 2019
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Deborah Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 5, 2017
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Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 19, 2017
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One person found this helpful
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Michael beck
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting comparative study with a cool story aswell
Reviewed in Australia on June 24, 2020
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