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Testimony: France in the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – March 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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 Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375425055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375425059
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,318,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Newt Gingrich THE on June 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy has written an extraordinary guidebook that applies just as well to America's challenges as those of France. Every presidential candidate in both parties should read it.

Sarkozy's opponent, Segolene Royale, should have won the French Presidential election and become the first woman President of France. After all, the center-right had held the French Presidency for 12 years. The incumbent President was tired and unpopular. In a normal year the outcome would have been obvious. The opposition left should have won.

Two things stopped the left: an idea and a man.

The man: Nicolas Sarkozy. The idea: France needed profound fundamental change and the left was the party of reactionary defense of a failing old order.

The scale of the French challenge is stated bluntly by the then candidate and now President of France: "I am convinced that the French now want their leaders quickly to undertake reforms that will make it possible to encourage work, improve education, make government more effective, better integrate minorities and restore France's full global role."

Using a web-based campaign to avoid the filter of the French media, Sarkozy hammered away for three years on the need for change. He distinguished himself from President Chirac and in the end it was Sarkozy who stood for a new future while the socialist Royale was defending the reactionary past.

Ironically, Sarkozy has more faith in American reform and renewal than do American politicians and commentators. He asserts: "Beyond all these characteristics of American society, what I admire most is its capacity to recognize its own weakness and to start correcting them right away.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate to come across this book just before Nicolas Sarkozy was to be elected the next French president. Both Intrade and NewsFutures (prediction markets) were assigning a probability over 80% that Sarkozy would win. When both these different prediction markets agree on such a high probability; you can truly deem it a sure thing.

Nicolas Sarkozy is a unique French politician as he is the first pro-American one ever. Also, he is most critical of France on most counts. And, he views himself as a positive agent of change that will change France's course. This renders this book unique in the history of French politics. Such an unabashed pro-American tack has never been undertaken by any other French politician.

In foreign policy, he observes that France main identity is one of anti-Americanism at every turn to present a counter force to American hegemony. He does not see this position as serving France's own interest over the long term. This antagonism for one thing has rendered the UN Security Council completely dysfunctional. It has also impaired many other supranational institutions such as NATO. Thus, his book is part of his political effort to reduce the political distance between the two countries. If the future French President can be pro-American at a time when our current administration is most unpopular both domestically and overseas since Nixon's, it bodes extremely well for the prospect of Franco-American relations.

Culturally, he feels France has been too obsessed about protecting its own language. Instead, he feels it is critical for the French to all become more fluent in English so as to more readily adopt technologies associated with this language.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Richert on October 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Is this the France I thought I knew? After reading Sarkozy's book I have to believe that the French do want to change the direction of their country and perhaps their continent. Knowing it was published in France before his election to the Presidency, I don't know what other conclusion to assume. While I by no means agree with everything he writes below are a few excerpts that I don't think you would have gotten from a traditional French politician.

- The State can't do for you what you're not willing to do for yourself. Pg. 136
- France must again become the homeland for work, merit, responsibility, and fraternity. It must be the country where social advancement is possible, encouraged and desired by all. Page 74

Sarkozy's willingness to admit to certain problems in France and then suggest practical fixes is refreshing. While not at the level of detail as Newt Gingrich's book "Winning the Future" it is similar in that it highlights problems and presents solutions regarding his particular country's state. While some of his solutions don't have a lot of concrete substance around them, I don't necessarily think that was the point of this particular book.

I encountered many issues that parallel our issues in the U.S., such as education, a cradle to grave benefit society and health care to name a few. I find it fascinating that the U.S. is running towards enacting many of the social dependency programs that France and the rest of Europe are starting to run away from because of the inability to afford them and the inferior programs that governments minister.

I think "Testimony" is a worthy book to read to get a glimpse of what the leader of an important European country is thinking. It will be interesting to watch how his administration progresses.
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