There are similar guidebooks for France and Germany, but I've not yet had the pleasure of reading them. However, there was one curious little book I didn't know about and it's free online to read: 112 Gripes About the French, published in Paris in 1945. This handbook is a lovely explanation of a different culture, aimed at American audiences. Apparently many US servicemen were unhappy with the French and this guidebook was produced to give a very frank (ha!) breakdown of what was really going on. Even today it's well worth reading to get a better understanding of how other cultures many not be better or worse, but simply different.
I particularly liked "Gripe #35":
35. "The French do things different than we do. That's what I don't like."Gripe #109 was about the French political system, a system many Americans didn't (and don't) appreciate. Part of the explanation of it was thus:
It is always something of a shock when you run into different ways of talking, eating, doing things. But what is different is not always inferior: "different" does not mean "worse". There is more than one way of skinning a cat.
The story is told of an American soldier who saw some Chinese putting rice on the graves in a Chungking cemetery. "That doesn't make sense", said the American with a smile. "When do you expect the dead to eat the rice?"
"When your dead return to smell your flowers", was the answer.
The French political system is a democracy. It is like ours in its basic principles: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of the vote, minority rights, protection under the law, trial by jury, etc.Even today, I think that's a message that many could stand to hear.
The system differs from ours as far as parties are concerned: we have a "two-party" form of administration; the French have many parties.
The French have a political party for almost every conceivable political position. They don't believe that "there are two ways of looking at things"; the French think there are dozens of ways, and that if enough people hold to any one way they have a right to be represented in the government.
Go and read 112 Gripes About the French (in particular, Gripe 48). It's a fascinating look at another culture, in a time of great stress.