In this new year of the horse, the infamous Tiger Mom is back in the cross currents of the national conversation with the release of her latest book (In this new year of the horse, the infamous Tiger Mom is back in the cross currents of the national conversation with the release of her latest book (a collaboration with her husband Jed Rubenfeld). One could say that Amy Chua is like the Justin Bieber of the book world in that one cannot deny that she gets people talking and reacting. At first, I was skeptical about their premise –an inflated and forced argument of the three seemingly contradictory components (superiority, insecurity and impulse control) that according to the authors gives particular ethnic and religious groups the edge in being successful in 21st-century America. They make it plain that the successes they focus on are the tangible kinds (e.g., test scores, income, brand-name universities) and not the more unpredictable and hard won heights of the elusive intangible realms (e.g., artistic breakthroughs, giving, humanitarianism and understanding).
Stretching back to the nineties, the 1790s that is, and starting with The Autobiography of Ben Franklin, there have been scores of books that address how to rise above the garden variety mediocrity seemingly surrounding individuals and society. Based on Chua’s previous track record and the first few chapters, I was ready to add this one to the top of the stack of good-to-poor books espousing a certain way or method to both survive and thrive in America. However, as I proceeded further into this book, Chua ambushed me in a way that I became somewhat persuaded by their arguments. Especially resonating were the sections where they were able to convey the underdog power of drive, grit and overachievement and the pitfalls of complacency and entitlement. In addition, the authors provide a heightened sense of sensitivity to the glorious diversity of America-ranging from the Amish to the most recently arrived Lebanese Americans and Nigerian Americans. While there are sweeping generalizations, oversimplifications and repetition due to the book’s pop sociology writing style, there are also counterbalancing moments of engagement and insight. Somewhere near the conclusion, I came to the notion that “The Triple Package” could be traced all the way back to the good ol’ all-American concept of using foreign values and methods to achieve the American Dream. In other words, this book reveals the roots of possible Capitalistic success in this land of parking lots and natural beauty. ...more