Surprisingly for an academic who has won almost all the glittering prizes, Larry Summers challenged the idea—cherished by Ms. Chua and her admirers—that academic success as a route to a rewarding career should be the sum of a child's ambitions. "Which two freshmen at Harvard have arguably been most transformative of the world in the last 25 years?" he asked. "You can make a reasonable case for Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, neither of whom graduated." If they had been the product of a Tiger Mom upbringing, he added, their mothers would probably have been none too pleased with their performance.