This book points out some quite remarkable differences in child rearing techniques between the US/UK and France, in an effort to explain why French children tend to be better behaved than American/British ones. The gist of it is this: US/UK parents are guilty of a combination of indulgence and over-parenting (the belief that more parent effort = better parenting). French parents, on the other hand, cut the children much less slack, they enforce a few rules very rigidly (and consistently), but allow the children freedom to grow within that scaffold of rules. They do not allow the children to become all their life is about; they insist on the importance of maintaining a sex life, attractiveness (doctors monitor how rapidly a woman loses weight after birth), they do not allow living rooms to be swamped in toys. It's all quite simple: French children eat real food (adult food) because they are forced to eat a lot of different foods from an early age, they don't pester their parents for candy in supermarkets because they never get any etc.
Although the book is about French child rearing, it reveals just as much, if not more, about American child rearing. I'm Norwegian, and I was a bit shocked at her insistence that all American kids are given candy pretty much all the time ("When I'm with Anglophone friends and their kids, little bags of pretzels and Cheerios seem to appear all the time, in between meals.") and are allowed to run around and scream and be a pest when adults are trying to have a conversation. There are Norwegian parents like that, but they generally belong to marginal socio-economic groups.
The most interesting tip in this book is "la pause" - the simple principle that a newborn baby has several distinct sleep cycles inbetween which it wakes up. It then needs to find sleep on its own, and doing so, might whimper a bit. You have to wait a while if it whimpers during the night, otherwise you actually disturb it and wake it up between sleep cycles. Wait a couple of minutes or something.
All in all, I was quite pleased to find that our parenting habits are much closer to the French than the American variety.
After it had made the above points, though, the book started to go in circles a bit, like it was trying to turn a longish magazine article into a book. Which might have been what happened. Worth reading for new parents, I guess, but don't feel guilty if you feel like leaving it half-way through.