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Dawn Dusk or Night: A Year with Nicolas Sarkozy Hardcover – April 22, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Whether she’s writing fiction or sharing observations, Reza never forgoes the hammer-to-nail directness and clarity of playwriting, the form that propelled her to prominence. Even in this chronicle of her immersion in politics, the most verbose of realms, she does not lose her gifts for succinctness and sleight-of-hand irony. And, surely, only a French writer would create such a mischievous and pointillistic portrait of a man who would be president. Reza asked Nicolas Sarkozy if she could spend the year with him as he campaigned for France’s highest office, and right from the start, this pair—each glamorous, intense, and ambitious; each with origins elsewhere, hers in Iran, his in Hungary and Greece—circle each other like sparring partners, intimate in their adversity. Vigilant and droll, Reza waits patiently for glimpses into her subject’s soul, even as she wryly describes the rituals of campaign appearances, the boil of the press, and the jockeying of Sarkozy’s advisers. Elegantly philosophical and restrained, Reza’s mercifully apolitical political sketchbook records both transient moments and a timeless vision of human striving. --Donna Seaman


“[Reza is] a splendid observer-nothing gets by her.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Quite possibly the most innovative and startling report on a political campaign ever written.”
Los Angeles Times

“Brilliantly evocative. . . . captivating. . . . A contemplation of a man struggling with the evanescence of time. This is the campaign trail as we have never seen it before.”
Times Literary Supplement

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st U.S. Ed edition (April 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307269213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269218
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,634,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a brilliant idea this was! Take Yasmina Reza (`Art'), the best-known playwright in France today, and have her shadow the country's rising political star, Nicolas Sarkozy, in his bid -ultimately successful--for the presidency. The result is not political reporting but a stunningly brilliant portrait of a type of man, homo politicus, as represented by one of its most appealing exemplars. Sarkozy is perpetually in motion, reinventing himself against the backdrop of hangers on and electorate. From their first meeting, she notes Sarkozy's impatience, his thirst for praise (`still waiting, like a child, for the umpteenth approval'). "I feel like I'm watching a little boy," she writes. He can't stand being alone, he sabotages conversations that don't involve him, shuns solitude. He comes alive around people, needs audiences to think and live. Reza's glittering prose show us glimpses of a man whose goal seems to be to outrun his own image in the mirror but who also happens to be one of the most important political figures of our age. Compulsively readable, this book deserves the widest audience. Sarkozy is charming, relentlessly ambitious, unable to sit still, and totally self-absorbed, a man in search of a mirror. But when he finds one, he finds there's still something missing.
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Format: Hardcover
Well-known French author and playright Yasmina Reza pitched an unusual idea to presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy in the Spring of 2007: to be able to follow up around, unrestricted, for a year and write about it. Much to her surprise, Sarkozy immediately said yes. This book is what came of that.

"Dawn Dusk or Night: A Year with Nicolas Sarlozy" (190 pages) is a deeply personal, subjective, and quite unusual (as one might expect from someone like that) account of the year Reza spent with Sarkozy. It is a mostly unflattering view of Sarkozy. "Often he says, How you doing' Yasmina? But that means, how is he doing?" Or this, when she's talking on a campaign stop with someone else: "Infuriated by his nonexistence, he butts into the conversation to immediately change its direction." On politicians: "Forgetting oneself is not what they are living. They are forgetting others; they are, inevitably, self-obsessed". After Sarkozy wins the election and invites Reza over the the Elysee, she tells Sarkozy "I wanted to ask you something. Yes? I wanted to grant me something what you never have. What? A real conversation."

This book caused a huge stir when it came out in France last Fall, for obvious reasons. I'm not sure what Sarkozy was thinking when he agreed to the author's pitch, as it was pretty obvious what the outcome would be. I really enjoyed this book, even if it is, at times, a quirky read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You will either love or hate Yasmina Reza's style of writing. It is spare, thought-provoking, and at times, painfully accurate. This is not a ponderous journalistic campaign diary; it is more like snapshots. Dawn Dusk or Night captures the complicated Nicolas Sarkozy in far fewer words, and in far more memorable ways, than the dozens of other books that have been written about him. He comes off as both visionary and vain, as human and detached. Although Carla Bruni is not a character in this book, it is easy to see why Sarkozy would have experienced a coup de foudre when they met. The only drawback to the English version is a somewhat clunky translation; some points undoubtedly were made better in French. But for students of French politics and writing alike, it is a must read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
there was some insight in this book to the character of mr sarkozy, former french president. but often it was hard to tell with her writing style whom she was she was referring to. i suppose i just didn't care for the way she was wtriting.
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