Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the review, writes that Chua’s book — “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” — may have allegorical significance, as an example of the growing power of the East. Western parents reassure themselves that their children will grow up to be flexible and creative, Kolbert says, but the recent results of the Programme for International Student Assessment tests show cause for concern. She writes:
It was the first time that Chinese students had participated, and children from Shanghai ranked first in every single area. Students from the United States, meanwhile, came in seventeenth in reading, twenty-third in science, and an especially demoralizing thirty-first in math. This last ranking put American kids not just behind the Chinese, the Koreans, and the Singaporeans but also after the French, the Austrians, the Hungarians, the Slovenians, the Estonians, and the Poles.
Kolbert additionally pokes fun at Chua’s lack of introspection in her memoir. She writes that the narrative resembles “your most self-congratulatory friend holding forth for two hours about her kids’ triumphs,” and suggests that even by the end of the book, Chua cannot quite bring herself to fully reform her parenting habits.
“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” was published January 11, following Chua’s excerpt in The Wall Street Journal titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”