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Dangerous De-Liaisons: What's Really Behind the War between France and the U.S. Paperback – March 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House; First Edition edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974607851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974607856
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,318,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What better way to shed light on the increasingly fractious relationship between France and the United States than a dialogue between two sensitive observers: one American and one French? Colombani is editor of France's most prestigious newspaper, Le Monde; Wells is editor of the pre-eminent American newspaper in Europe, the International Herald Tribune. What makes this book work is that each knows how to argue his country's case persuasively, yet is also capable of recognizing shortcomings. While neither lets the other get away with overly facile or one-sided characterizations, they converge in a mutual recognition of what ails the relationship between the world's two oldest republics and why the division benefits neither. Among the many insights: France is an easy target in the U.S. because there is no French-American voting bloc; France complains about U.S. unilateralism, but President Chirac's scolding of the East Europeans for supporting the U.S. on Iraq sounded like "L'Union Européen, c'est moi." On the subject of pre-emptive war, it's pointed out that Napoleon's experiment in such war against Spain and Russia brought down the French empire. Colombani says that because Franklin Roosevelt preferred to court Vichy France rather than Gen. Charles de Gaulle, the French right (exemplified by presidents de Gaulle and Chirac) became anti-American, and the French left pro-American (as exemplified by former president Francois Mitterrand, who backed George Bush Sr. in the Gulf War). Reader, beware: the candor and intelligence of the dialogue are infectious and certain to inform and soften all but the most die-hard proponents on either side of the divide.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jean-Marie Colombani is the editor-in-chief of Le Monde. He is the author of La France sans Mitterrand and Tous Americains? He lives in Paris. Walter Wells is the executive editor of the Paris-based newspaper The International Herald Tribune. He is a former editor on the national desk at the The New York Times. They both live in Paris.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book that analyzes the reasons behind the French-American political rift. The writing is very lively, as it is structured as a debate between two very insightful journalists: Jean-Mari Colombani, editor of Le Monde, and Walter Wells, editor of the International Herald Tribune. Both live in Paris.
The two co-authors do an excellent job in contrasting the two cultures. This is not a third class political shouting match. Both of them are well versed in both cultures, and agree on as many points as they disagree. But, throughout, they educate you on the extensive differences between these two dominant cultures of the Western World.
It is no surprise that our governments clash. Both of them do not take well to being number two. In a sense, from an intellectual standpoint, both governments are as unilateral as the other. It happens one leads the number one power and attempts to lead the World; the other leads a second tier nation and attempts to lead the number one supranational governmental body. It is in their respective "attempts" that the French and American governments experience growing frustration.

In several ways, the two countries represent polar opposites of a Western style democracy.
France is really a technocracy much more than a democracy. The members of the power structure in both commerce and politics typically have graduated from the top universities with degrees in engineering, political science, law, or business. Within such an elitist system there is very little chance for entrepreneurship. The opportunity for self-made success American style are close to zero in France. In good part, this is because of France's hefty socialist safety net.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Sullivan on May 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
An essential read for anyone who wonders why even French youth say they like Americans, but criticize almost everything Americans do. And anyone who wonders why, before Janaury 2003, Americans have generally considered France an ally, but generally think they are way too self-important.
The downside of the English edition? The translation gets at best 3 stars because of idiomatic shortcomings. And where were the editors? There are usage or syntax gaffes which cause one to read portions again with annoying frequency. Not always successfully.
Read the French edition if you can.
Still highly recommended, but only 4 stars for the English edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Neely on January 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dangerous De-Liaisons, What's Really Behind the War Between France and the US by Jean-Marie Colombani and Walter Wells is very pertinent to read during this pre-election period in the United States. This book was written by two of the world's leading newspaper editors. Colombani is editor of Le Monde, the major French newspaper, and Wells is an American who is editor in chief of The International Herald Tribune. The book has the format of a friendly but very well informed conversation between the two editors. The reader learns much of the history of the two nations and the conflict over the US war in Iraq. These men focus on the reasons behind the deteriorated relationship between France and the US, the new world in which terrorism has become a chief concern worldwide, and the rapidly developing economic impact of the growing European Union. If you are remotely interested in the way the world views the US and the international concept of the US since the end of the Cold War, this book is vital to read. You will gain insights into why relationships have deteriorated and what is behind the scenes that the general public does not know. It is a fascinating read to learn and explore "the chilling question: Can our two nations once again unite to make the world a better place - or has our war only just begun?"
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. King on November 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
The book consists of a dialog of letters written between American Walter Wells who was editor of the International Herald Tribune and Jean-Marie Colombani who held the corresponding post at Le Monde presenting the French POV.

There is a long history of mutual admiration between France and the US. Both countries had a formative revolution at roughly the same time, for both the issue was liberty and popular representation. Yet in 2002 a war of words erupted amongst the elites of both countries ostensibly over Iraq and there was some concern that the rift was reflected permanent damage to the relationship.

Both writers do an admirable job of laying out their concerns and agree on most particulars though not entirely on values. Wells sees France as egalitarian and America as communitarian, a useful distinction. Whereas the former is statist, the latter seeks to encourage public spirit based on family, neighbourhood and individualism. America is a hothouse of opportunity, yet the environment is cruel to to those who do not succeed. Colombani offers that the French view Americans (under Bush) as reactionary, not conservative, and even primitive in that they still have the death penalty. But so did France not so long ago, and so does Japan today. They admire Wilsonian principles but distress that America does not practice them. Wells notes that neither did Wilson. In theory practice and theory may be the same. In practice they are not. But the core of the division seems to be over Iraq. The French prefer multilateralism and see it as a virtue. But then membership in the EU will generate that perspective, in an insular way, especially if you are one of the decisive voices.
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