From Publishers Weekly
Much of this newly translated political manifesto by France's Gaullist presidential front-runner won't come across clearly to Americans—especially the author's cryptic allusions to his marital difficulties, his murky feuds with other French politicians, and to unnamed "plotters and schemers in their smoke-filled rooms." But given Sarkozy's penchant for "American"-style rhetoric, much else will seem familiar: his celebration of individual initiative, hard work and risk-taking entrepreneurship; his insistence that France dynamite its allegedly sclerotic welfare state and embrace a competitive global economy; his tough-on-crime stance and his tearful elegies for children murdered by sex offenders. Sarkozy decries France's 35-hour workweek, high minimum wage and lavish dole, and fires a fusillade of small-bore, often vague proposals to improve the tax and judicial systems, education, the constitution, the civil service and immigration policy. For all his echoing of Bills Clinton and O'Reilly (with a touch of Gallic grandiosity), this leader on the French right is still left of the American consensus; he opposes the death penalty and champions affirmative action, and even his reformed welfare state would strike many Americans as socialistic. As bracing—or unsettling—as Sarkozy may sound to the French, in English he is rather tepid. (Mar.)
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Sarkozy is France's minister of the interior, considered the front-runner for the presidency in the recent election. Many French critics have condemned this book as an "American style" political biography and promotional stunt, but Americans are likely to be surprised at the frankness, even bluntness, of his language and the specificity of Sarkozy's analyses and policy prescriptions. By the standards of French politics, he is unabashedly pro-American, virtually gushing in his admiration for U.S. economic dynamism, particularly when compared to the stagnation and stifling regulation he sees in France. But he also maintains that France must keep its "social safety net" intact. Sarkozy doesn't shy away from controversial issues, including the usefulness of affirmative action for French minorities, the tension between a policy of wealth redistribution and wealth creation, crime control, and the "abandoned" middle class. The technicalities of the French political system may confuse many American readers; nevertheless, this is a refreshingly candid series of observations from a politician likely to play a major role in future world affairs. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved