Andrew Ferguson’s witty and wistful new memoir, Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid into College, stands in obvious contrast to Amy Chua’s bumptious bestseller, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Between them, the two books nicely illustrate the stately but steady decline of the white upper middle class, of which Ferguson is a sterling representative, in the face of Asian competition for the commanding heights of American society.
Ferguson’s book could be called Wry Observations of the Deer Dad. The gentle satirist comes across as the anti-Chua as he describes what he learned from his family’s 18-month struggle with college admissions mania. The fair-minded Ferguson seems observant, skittish, respectful of his son’s individuality and preferences, slightly passive, and, in the multi-generational long run, dead meat for the tigers of this world.
Crazy U. is not really a how-to guide. Instead, the questions that interest Ferguson most have less to do with helping his son get ahead than with the Big Picture issues of why getting into college has become so frenzied and whether these changes are good for society.
Chua, on the other hand, just wants her progeny to win.