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Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French Paperback – May 1, 2003
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Why the change of heart? Well, first of all Paris has to be seen to be believed. I'm a history buff, and the city is soaked with centuries of it. However, it was the people that really made an impression on me. I was assisted in my wanderings by a number of kind French, including a woman who gave myself and some others an impromptu tour of Notre Dame, and even had three of us over for (free) dinner at her parent's restaurant. And all that just because I asked her for directions! I confess that I fell in love with Paris, and after returning home I began looking for books to learn more about a place that could turn my opinions around so quickly.
I almost skipped over this one - the title and goofy cover art made me think it was some sort of satire. But I gave it a shot, and it turned out to be one of the best books I've read this year. It answered many questions I had about France and the French, from the turbulent history that formed the French national identity, to why a Frenchman spent about a minute correcting my pronounciation of "Champs Elysees." Better yet, the authors write in an accessible, entertaining style, even when dissecting the minutia of French government. A great read from start to finish - don't let this one get away.
I can't wait to go back to Paris, and if you feel as I do, or just want to know why "60 Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong", then by all means get this book!
The book consists of three parts: "Spirit," "Structure," and "Change." The part on Spirit is by far the best. It provides a good entry to diverse aspects of the French mindset, sometimes using the device of "studying the aborigines" in France. These include, for example, the French attitude toward land, their fondness for grandeur, and their notions of private and public space. The section is full of anecdotes and discussions with French people, and these voices come through very well.
The section on "Structure" is much less successful. Perhaps, as a political scientist, I am inclined to be overly critical of those who discuss politics without the analytical apparatus that the discipline uses. Still, I see that other reviewers were also disappointed in this section. I think the problem is that the authors rely too much on "regular people" as sources. This strategy works really well when people are talking about their own views of things, as in the "Spirit" section. It doesn't work so well when people are talking about things outside themselves, especially if those things may require some expertise to understand, such as the economy.
When Nadeau and Barlow make generalizations about France, the US, or Canada, it's important to realize that all three of these are diverse countries.Read more ›
In a lively style punctuated with anecdote, authors Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau trace how the society and politics of France have evolved over the centuries. The result? We start to understand there is a distinct French character and that the current showdown between France and the English-speaking world is not resistance for its own sake, but the result of the real, historic differences that exist.
This book is for anyone who has ever lived in France, visited or tried to do business with the French. It will illuminate some of the mysteries and answer questions you didn't know to ask.
Unlike the Nadeaux my knowledge of the French language is not first rate inspite of time spent here. Yet I am able to communicate well enough with many French in the area in which I live and have made close and interesting friends. They are most tolerant of my language failures and my nationality. They would be quite surprised to know that they close their shutters for privacy rather than for weather conditions or that they would never show the insides of their homes other than the Selon or Cusine to guests. Contrary to the book or perhaps contrary to Parisians, in the evening light emminates from my neighbors homes even to a kilometer away across a little valley to the village and the Maire and Ecole.One should also remember homes dating from the Middle Ages don't have a lot of windows or portals.
If political corruption is overlooked,as written, why is President Chirac facing charges of misuse of funds when he served as Mayor of Paris? The system here protects politicians from prosecution while serving in office but that ends when he leaves his elected positon. The former Gaulist Primier Juppe was certainly brought up for illegal political donations although he apparently did not personally benefit.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very enjoyable, enlightening and educational read. I learned a lot about France reading Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't be WrongPublished 3 days ago by Russell Fenton
My son read this (he is 12) and absolutely LOVED the book. He was enthralled to be reading french history and learning about France. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Aj17
Very well structured book that is made easy to read with conversational tone. History shapes a people. People shape their government. Read morePublished 29 days ago
Surprised that I never knew who Charles de Gaulle was. Never knew what France was. Now I wish to read about all countries. Great work!Published 1 month ago by Vineet Jindal
Interesting point of view, but too many facts left unchecked, stereotypes and some altogether wrong statement make it )essential of a reference than it could be...Published 2 months ago by T S
I found this book to be a very interesting insight to the French psyche. I have found it quite difficult over the years trying to figure out the French but this book has explained... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Harry Keen