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'Tiger Mom' Author Stirs New Controversy In Book Examining Race, Success

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) - It may seem like a touchy question, but an author known for tackling tricky subjects has some suggestions for who Asian women should marry if they want to have smart, successful kids.

Amy Chua, the self-proclaimed "Tiger Mom" who set off a fire storm about her extreme parenting in 2011 is back with a new book. In "Triple Package" the author and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld have more to say about why certain groups in America are more successful than others.

"People are afraid to touch this question…they're like 'if you go there, you're going to be stereotyping,'" says Chua.

The authors, both Yale law professors, name Chinese, Jews, Indians and Nigerians to America's list of overachieving groups. Children from those backgrounds tend to get better test scores, they have better jobs and make more money, the authors say.

"Our whole book is written to show that what is propelling success today in these groups, and in plenty of individuals who are not in these groups, are three qualities that are open to anyone," said Rubenfeld.

The authors identified three shared traits. Successful people tend to feel superior and insecure at the same time; they are troubled by the feeling that what they're doing isn't good enough. They also have impulse control - or discipline.

"What do Nigerian Americans have in common with Mormons or Jews?" asked Chua. "It turns out that, when groups are on the rise, that is when they are really doing disproportionately well. (For example they are) sending their kids to the best schools. They all tend to impose much more strict discipline on their children at an early age."

But that success isn't permanent.

"Asian-Americans do very well right now academically. But after three generations, they perform no better than the rest of the population," claims Chua.

And therefore, they say success isn't based on based on genes or race.

Two USC sociologists argue that, on an individual level, the triple package makes sense. But they say not everyone can climb the ladder of success, even if they have the three traits.

"I think it's a simplistic argument," countered Elaine Bell Kaplan, Associate Professor of Sociology at USC. "It doesn't explain first why so many blacks are not able to make it. They're saying then...'gee just pull yourself together.'"

The scholars say the book assumes an even playing field for all.

"They ignored the social and the historical and legal context of immigration. They've ignored that not everyone starts at the same starting line when they enter the United States," said Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo.

Others critics have called the book racist.

"I find it just incomprehensible. I mean, our book shows exactly the opposite, that it's nothing biological," counters Chua.

They say perseverance and motivation can be taught.

"We show that there are African-American groups and Hispanic-American groups outperforming the national average, outperforming the white average," said Rubenfeld.

Some students at U.C. Berkeley said they book has a point.

"I do find that those groups you named off have stricter parenting skills or their parents have stricter skills so they're more adamant about their children doing well and their children have that imprinted in their brain," said Miko Muse.

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