I happened upon this article and thought it was really interesting.
"Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior"
I believe Amy Chua is exaggerating her points. I believe a more balanced approach is the most optimal way to raise a child. In fact, most "Chinese Mothers" I know (including my own) adopted a more balanced approach. For example, they realized that sports have some positive benefits for team building and self esteem (and you can add a blurb onto your college application).
However, the over-dramatization is probably done to illustrate the difference from the other extreme, which is the parent that is overly casual and relaxed with the upbringing of their children. Back in the early 1990s, when Japan was kicking America's ass economically, a number of politicians went over to Japan to try and figure out what was going on. After getting back to the states, one politician on TV said something to the affect of:
"In America, if Johnny isn't too smart, mom and dad are happy if he gets a C. In Japan, if Johnny isn't too smart, Johnny does more homework to make sure he can get an A."
It's a quote I remember very fondly because I think it's quite true. I never considered myself to be a particularly sharp knife in the drawer, but I believe all the extra programming assignments, self-induced textbook readings, and extracurriculars did pay off in the end.
Despite not being a "mom" (let alone a parent) I'm intrigued enough to pick up Amy Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother". It seems like it'll be an interesting read.