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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011)

by Amy Chua

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This is the April book for our book club. It was not one of my favorites - but it has to the potential to be a book full of discussion spots.

The premise: Amy Chua has two daughters and she has determined they will be raised as good Chinese daughters because she is the perfect Chinese mother. That means she bullies, screams, pesters, sacrifices, prods and accepts nothing less than absolute PERFECTION!

Her husband is only a shadow in this story, but he has given his wife full control of this part of their life and my goodness she takes over. Sophia, the older of the girls is molded into a piano prodigy. Lulu the younger is molded into a violinist extraordinare. At least that is the plan...

Lulu does not take kindly to this plan. Slowly she becomes a formidable opponent for her mother's zealous mothering. The battle brews throughout the story and explodes. There is an interesting ending...one that I won't give away.

What do I think...
I have been a teacher for my entire adult life. I have rubbed up against many different types of parents - all of them "Western" parents. I could not quantify them in a few sentences or a generalize what they are. Amy does this continuously throughout the book. She constantly explains what 'western' parents would do rather than the wonderful "Chinese mother' method. I HATED THAT!!! This entire book is a stereotype! Earlier I called Amy zealous, but that is being generous to mom...she is so far beyond that I can't really quantify her. This description makes me want to assume that all Chinese Mother's are Tiger Moms. But based on my teacher past I am sure that is not true!! ARGH!!! That is exactly what I hate about what she did.

So what did I get from the story...A push to understand again that parenting is an extremely personal task which most of us fail miserably at and yet we end up with INCREDIBLE kids. We try our best with our abilities and our stereotypes, and our kids are both the guinea pigs and unknown element.

And that brings me to the other reminder for me as a teacher... I sometimes assume I know what the parenting is like in a family. But, I can't. The parent can do exactly the same thing with tremendously different results!!

Finally - I am SO pleased I didn't grow up in a family like this. I don't think I would have survived!!!

So...I would say this is the kind of book you can ask someone else to describe to you, or check it out at a library...save your money and borrow my copy! ( )
  kebets | Nov 1, 2014 |
Not going to lie, I definitely got some interesting parenting ideas from this woman. BUT they are only things such as "it probably would be good to start my kids out early on an instrument if they are going to be any good at it" and "maybe I should try and have my kids study on the weekends". Other than that, I found it terrifying. Those girls are going to be lucky, as they have a great educational/extracurricular background. But it doesn't seem like they were really able to be kids. Good read. ( )
  KatieEmilySmith | Sep 23, 2014 |
This book got tons of press and was much discussed in terms of the "mommy wars" and I'm a bit confused why. Yes, this book is written by a mother who describes her views on parenting, pitting the "chinese way" versus the "western way". Now, I am never going to make my son practice the violin for 6 hours a day, even on vacation, or refuse to let him go to sleepovers or playdates, but I didn't feel like I was being lectured about how to parent while reading this book. That was what I was expecting, but actually, even Chua finds that her idea of parenting, though working brilliantly for her oldest daughter, does not work for her youngest. I saw this more as a memoir/autobiography book than the parenting advice book I was expecting. Actually, even though I don't subscribe to her parenting tactics, I thought the book was pretty funny. She doesn't really end it very well (and admits it) - after all, her kids are only teenagers still, so she can't say "you should do what I did, my kids turned out great" because we don't really know that yet. Anyway, I enjoyed reading it. It's short and funny as long as you don't take it too seriously. ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 24, 2014 |
I think this is a very interesting case study in raising children.

It is the autobiography of a Chinese mother raising two daughters "the Chinese way." Which is to be demanding, so utterly demanding of excellence: nothing less than an A grade, or perfection in musical studies. There is are no play dates allowed or generally playing around that most kids do today. And there is simply no talking back to parents. The author tells about her eldest daughter being the most dutiful and perfect child. The second girl was quite rebellious and more difficult to raise in the Chinese way.

The author is a Yale professor of law, who found time to raise two daughters to be musical and scholastic over, overachievers.

An article on this book appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Last time I looked, it had gathered over 4,000 comments by readers of the article.

Most Westerners and third generation Chinese thoroughly disagree with Ms. Chua's version of childrearing. However, she attests her children had a lot of input on what she wrote, and that they now totally, almost totally, appreciate the way she brought them up. Amy Chua said this is amazing to Western parents who typically complain about how ungrateful their children are.

One important point in the book was that the reason you hate a school subject is because you are not good at it. And if you are forced to get through to the point you are good at the subject, you will then suddenly find you like the subject very much.

Coincidentally, I have just finished The Chosen One by Chaim Potok, which has been a very popular book in its day where the story is about intensive, demanding Jewish life for children. There is a lot less verbal combat in this book, but the point is the same: Excellence in study and very hard work now gives you freedom for life.

There are probably two main viewpoints a reader can get from these two books so far as education is concerned: one, is to be grateful not to have endured That, and, two, to have been pushed to greater levels of accomplished while young. ( )
  Benedict8 | Jul 16, 2014 |
The way the story flows is much like a concerto that she makes her daughters practice. The first part has a lighter, funnier, and (relatively) more easy-going tone -- the 'comedy' part, if you will. The second part has a slower, more somber tone due to the recounting of the heavy-handedness which she trains her children. In the last part, the tone picks up again, but with a greater, heavier urgency coupled with the franticness of the battle of wills between the author's younger daughter and herself. Love it or hate it, is the verdict after reading this book. OK, for some, there is the middle ground of skepticism as to whether such a rigid upbringing of a child has been (over) embellished.
  MomsterBookworm | Jul 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
...Amy Chua's unexceptional memoir about her dedication to raising children who excel...
added by atbradley | editThe Guardian, Terri Apter (Jan 29, 2011)
 
“There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests,” Amy Chua writes. She ought to know, because hers is the big one: “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” a diabolically well-packaged, highly readable screed ostensibly about the art of obsessive parenting. In truth, Ms. Chua’s memoir is about one little narcissist’s book-length search for happiness. And for all its quotable outbursts from Mama Grisly (the nickname was inevitable), it will gratify the same people who made a hit out of the granola-hearted “Eat, Pray, Love.”
 
Parenting and child psychology take up most of the self-help book genre, stressing the point that every parent must develop their own creative and suitable ways to deal with their child.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother stands out from its genre contemporaries, as author Amy Chua delves right into the techniques she used to raise her own genius daughters, who are very lucky. Why? Because they're Chinese! Yes, the author aims at educating the unfortunate rest of the world on how to raise their kids to be more like the genius race that is the Chinese.

Chua believes that the Chinese race is superior because of the mothers’ tough parenting techniques: for example, the Chinese mother considers an A- grade a bad grade, never compliments her kids in public, and only allows them to participate in activities from which they’ll win a trophy or medal; and it must be gold.

The controversy that this book has caused has been mainly down to how the author compares the know-it-all 'Chinese mother' to the typical good-for-nothing 'Western mother'. That being said, the book itself is very captivating, divided into stories and anecdotes that are both educating and suspenseful, with organized profiles on her family. Her controversial theory, however, may jar with parents who do not fall in line with the author’s ideals.

It’s important to remember that everyone has their own parenting methods. So, if you come out with just one thing from this book, it may be that if having no social life, being forced into hobbies, and being under constant pressure to score the best grades is what it takes for a kid to be genius, then perhaps it’s not worth it after all.

It’s easier to read the book as an autobiography than as a self-help book; that way you can enjoy the mother’s thoughts on her daughters’ upbringing and the methods that she used. That way, the book won’t ruffle your feathers or come across as condescending to those who might be in the firing line of the straight-talking Chua.
 
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A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.
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What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it.
I can't tell you how many Asian kids I've met who, while acknowledging how oppressively strict and brutally demanding their parents were, happily describe themselves as devoted to their parents and unbelievably grateful to them, seemingly without a trace of bitterness or resentment.

I'm not really sure why this is. Maybe it's brainwashing. Or maybe it's Stockholm syndrome. But here's one thing I'm sure of: Western children are definitely no happier than Chinese ones.
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Traces the rewards and pitfalls of a Chinese mother's exercise in extreme parenting, describing the exacting standards applied to grades, music lessons, and avoidance of Western cultural practices.

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