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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
     

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

by Amy Chua
 

An awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother's exercise in extreme parenting, revealing the rewards-and the costs-of raising her children the Chinese way.

All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea

Overview

An awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother's exercise in extreme parenting, revealing the rewards-and the costs-of raising her children the Chinese way.

All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.

Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:

? have a playdate

? be in a school play

? complain about not being in a school play

? not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama

? play any instrument other than the piano or violin

? not play the piano or violin

The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin.

Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:

"According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:

1. Oh my God, you're just getting worse and worse.

2. I'm going to count to three, then I want musicality.

3. If the next time's not PERFECT, I'm going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!"

But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters' performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting- and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Chang
Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents…
—The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
…a diabolically well-packaged, highly readable screed…
—The New York Times
Susan Dominus
So many parenting memoirs capture the various ways the authors' children have taken them to hell and back. Refreshingly, and perhaps uniquely, Chua instead catalogs the various ways she tortured her two young daughters, all in the name of Chinese tradition and the goal of reaching Carnegie Hall…Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is entertaining, bracingly honest and, yes, thought-provoking.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly Audio
Considering the polarizing controversy her book has engendered, Chua comes across as surprisingly likable and engaging in her audiobook. Her narration and the text make it clear that while she vaunts her strict, "Chinese parenting," she is aware how and when she went too far. Her voice toggles between firm and self-righteous (this is her "earlier self" talking) and self-deprecation: she pokes fun at her extremism, muttering grumpily, "I didn't see what was so funny!" when her husband laughs at her insistence that he have big ambitions for not only their daughters but also the family dog. Chua's voice softens with doubt and questioning as she wonders how her daughters will look back at their childhoods, and she acknowledges that it's still a struggle for her to relinquish control. A thought-provoking and engaging listen. A Penguin Press hardcover. (Feb.)
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.)
David Brooks
“Courageous and thought-provoking.”
From the Publisher
"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the book we've all been waiting for - a candid, provocative, poignant and vicarious journey through the Chinese- American family culture. It will leave you breathless with its bluntness and emotion. Amy Chua is a Tiger Mother, a greatly gifted law professor and, ultimately, an honest, loving woman with a lot to say."
-Tom Brokaw

"This is one outrageous book, partly thanks to Amy Chua's writing style - Chua is pugnacious and blunt, with an unerring nose for the absurd ...The cultural divide Chua so brilliantly captures is one we stand to witness more and more in our globalized age, after all; and what with Asia and Asian achievement looming ever larger in the American imagination, the issues inherent in Battle Hymn are as important as they are entertaining... I was riveted by this book"
-Gish Jen, The Boston Globe

"Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother did more than speak to me. It screamed, shouted and lectured me. It made me simultaneously laugh with empathy and cringe with embarrassment and exasperation... Charming... Self-effacing... Guffaw-inducing"
-Terry Hong, San Francisco Chronicle

"Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents... Engagingly and provocatively chronicled. Readers of all stripes will respond to [Battle Hymn of the] Tiger Mother.
-Elizabeth Chang, The Washington Post

"[Chua's] writing is smart and lively"
-Entertainment Weekly

"Chua's mindset and methods-bolstered by faith in Chinese family tradition-pose a useful challenge for an era haunted by a helicoptering ethos as hard to shake as it is to like. Here is an alternative to the queasy hypocrisy of typical hyperparents, buffeted by shifting expertise that leaves them anxious about overpressuring even as they push. Chua breaks through all that. She is a crusader invigorated by practicing what she preaches: the arduous work she believes necessary to do anything well, child-rearing included... But precisely because Chua slaves away as hard as her girls do, one thing her program is not is guilt-inducing. In the end, her ordeal with Lulu teaches Chua humility and proves her daughter's very healthy autonomy-and inspires next to no regrets."
-Slate.com

TIME Magazine
“Few have the guts to parent in public. Amy [Chua]'s memoir is brutally honest, and her willingness to share her struggles is a gift. Whether or not you agree with her priorities and approach, she should be applauded for raising these issues with a thoughtful, humorous and authentic voice.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is entertaining, bracingly honest and, yes, thought-provoking.”
THE FINANCIAL TIMES
“Breathtakingly personal…[Chua’s] tale is as compelling as a good thriller.”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“[A] riveting read… Far from being strident, the book's tone is slightly rueful, frequently self-deprecating and entirely aware of its author's enormities… Chua's story is far more complicated and interesting than what you've heard to date — and well worth picking up… I guarantee that if you read the book, there'll undoubtedly be places where you'll cringe in recognition, and others where you'll tear up in empathy.”
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
"[F]ascinating. . . . the most stimulating book on the subject of child rearing since Dr. Spock." 
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
“Chua’s memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is a quick, easy read. It’s smart, funny, honest and a little heartbreaking…”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9784255005812
Publisher:
Asahi Press
Publication date:
06/28/2011
Pages:
295

Read an Excerpt

This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It's also about Mozart and Mendelssohn, the piano and the violin, and how we made it to Carnegie Hall.

This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones.

But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how

I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.

Part One

The Tiger, the living symbol of strength and power, generally inspires fear and respect.

The Chinese Mother

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.

I'm using the term "Chinese mother" loosely. I recently met a super-successful white guy from South Dakota (you've seen him on television), and after comparing notes we decided that his working-class father had definitely been a Chinese mother. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish, and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise.

I'm also using the term "Western parents" loosely. Western parents come in all varieties. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that Westerners are far more diverse in their parenting styles than the Chinese. Some Western parents are strict; others are lax. There are same-sex parents, Orthodox Jewish parents, single parents, ex-hippie parents, investment banker parents, and military parents. None of these "Western" parents necessarily see eye to eye, so when I use the term "Western parents," of course I'm not referring to all Western parents—just as "Chinese mother" doesn't refer to all Chinese mothers.

All the same, even when Western parents think they're being strict, they usually don't come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments thirty minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It's hours two and three that get tough.

Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that "stressing academic success is not good for children" or that "parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun." By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be "the best" students, that "academic achievement reflects successful parenting," and that if children did not excel at school then there was "a problem" and parents "were not doing their job." Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately ten times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.

This brings me to my final point. Some might think that the American sports parent is an analog to the Chinese mother. This is so wrong. Unlike your typical Western over-scheduling soccer mom, the Chinese mother believes that (1) schoolwork always comes first; (2) an A-minus is a bad grade; (3) your children must be two years ahead of their classmates in math; (4) you must never compliment your children in public; (5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the side of the teacher or coach; (6) the only activities your children should be permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal; and (7) that medal must be gold.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the book we've all been waiting for - a candid, provocative, poignant and vicarious journey through the Chinese- American family culture. It will leave you breathless with its bluntness and emotion. Amy Chua is a Tiger Mother, a greatly gifted law professor and, ultimately, an honest, loving woman with a lot to say."
-Tom Brokaw

"This is one outrageous book, partly thanks to Amy Chua's writing style - Chua is pugnacious and blunt, with an unerring nose for the absurd ...The cultural divide Chua so brilliantly captures is one we stand to witness more and more in our globalized age, after all; and what with Asia and Asian achievement looming ever larger in the American imagination, the issues inherent in Battle Hymn are as important as they are entertaining... I was riveted by this book"
-Gish Jen, The Boston Globe

"Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother did more than speak to me. It screamed, shouted and lectured me. It made me simultaneously laugh with empathy and cringe with embarrassment and exasperation... Charming... Self-effacing... Guffaw-inducing"
-Terry Hong, San Francisco Chronicle

"Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents... Engagingly and provocatively chronicled. Readers of all stripes will respond to [Battle Hymn of the] Tiger Mother.
-Elizabeth Chang, The Washington Post

"[Chua's] writing is smart and lively"
-Entertainment Weekly

"Chua's mindset and methods-bolstered by faith in Chinese family tradition-pose a useful challenge for an era haunted by a helicoptering ethos as hard to shake as it is to like. Here is an alternative to the queasy hypocrisy of typical hyperparents, buffeted by shifting expertise that leaves them anxious about overpressuring even as they push. Chua breaks through all that. She is a crusader invigorated by practicing what she preaches: the arduous work she believes necessary to do anything well, child-rearing included... But precisely because Chua slaves away as hard as her girls do, one thing her program is not is guilt-inducing. In the end, her ordeal with Lulu teaches Chua humility and proves her daughter's very healthy autonomy-and inspires next to no regrets."
-Slate.com

Tom Brokaw
"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the book we've all been waiting for—a candid, provocative, poignant and vicarious journey through the Chinese-American family culture. It will leave you breathless with its bluntness and emotion. Amy Chua is a Tiger Mother, a greatly gifted law professor and, ultimately, a honest, loving woman with a lot to say."
—Tom Brokaw

Meet the Author

Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her first book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, a New York Times bestseller, was selected by The Economist as one of the best books of 2003. Her second book, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—and Why They Fall, was a critically acclaimed Foreign Affairs bestseller. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.

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