- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Broadway; Reprint edition (October 11, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767917553
- ISBN-13: 978-0767917551
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.7 x 5.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 94 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,436,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France Paperback – October 11, 2005
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
National Review reporter Miller (The Unmaking of Americans) and Harvard lecturer Molesky focus quite single-mindedly on destroying what they say is the "myth" of the historical friendship between the United States and France. In doing so, they give short shrift to a few vital facts: for instance, while focusing on the French and Indian massacre of British colonists at Deerfield, Mass., in 1704, they overlook the importance of the French fleet in George Washington's great victory at Yorktown. Miller and Molesky also dismiss French policy as having a cynical underside of national self-interest, willfully overlooking the fact that all governments act out of self-interest. Thus, they call French trade barriers during the Cold War ingratitude for American aid in WWII. They accuse the French, who dare to look down on American culture, of their own "sordid cultural exports," such as the avant-garde, with its strain of nihilism. And, as the authors see it, the French, with the debacle at Dien Bien Phu, are responsible for America's quagmire in Vietnam. As one might guess, driving this revisionism is France's refusal to support the United States in its late invasion of Iraq The authors' ire, and their carefully selected and unnuanced slices of history, will convince only the already converted.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Lafayette, the Statue of Liberty, D-Day-- such symbolic shorthand for a historical alliance between France and America crumbles in the caustic viewpoint expressed by this historical review of their relationship. Miller, of the conservative National Review,^B and Molesky, a Harvard history lecturer, argue that animosity rather than amity has been the two countries' normal state of affairs, extending from the French and Indian War to the post-World War II pattern of frequent French diplomatic opposition to American foreign policy. The authors reflect on the sources of French anti-Americanism, maintaining it is, in part, because of France's resentment of its own decline as a great power and its cultural contempt for America as crass and materialistic. What may seem like the long-gone past, such as Napoleon III's pro-South policy in the Civil War, is presented as a seamless continuum to the present, representing the French proclivity for hampering the American "hyperpower," as one foreign minister recently called the U.S. Gratifying to a nationalist sensibility, Miller and Molesky's editorialized jaunt through history is fluid and opinionated. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Miller ably shows the extreme viciousness of the French against New England in the 18th Century wars (they used the sadism of their Indian allies as a bargaining chip--surrender or be flayed). He nicely shows the the cynicism of Napoleon III in reviving the hope of New France with a smash and grab raid on Mexico during our War Between the States. The pusilanimity and greed of rescued France in the treaty negotiations following WWI are well set out, as are the more majestic betrayals after the more abject rescue in 1945. Even more could be said about that.
Most Americans will be most interested in the American "debt" owed to France for its "support" in the Revolutionary War. [For the time being, forget Lafayette. I can think of no greater honor that to have the Marquis de Lafayette at my side. But not only was Lafayette not typical,his actions and presence here were specifically forbidden by his own king. He aided America against the will of France--no doubt because he was honorable and brave. Admiral de Grasse of Yorkville, though differently positioned, also deserves respect]. Miller's readers will encounter the official French helpers in all their livery of incompetence, laziness, contempt for the new republic, brazen dishonesty, and periodic treachery or cowardice.
If the book has a fault it is in the most recent period, where every French action seems presumed to emanate from anti-Americanism. Un-appetising and anti-American are not ipso facto the same thing: the French intelligentia's dive into its post-war Stalinist sewer was not necessarily anti-American, it probably just felt good. And de Gaulle's (or Chirac's) infantile self-importance and spite would no doubt have shown themselves against Alexander the Great or Caesar Augustus just as much as against Eisenhower or Bush. And even France can have legimate views of its interests that do not follow American policy.
But, all in all, a sober, entertaining, and much needed corrective general history.
Our Oldest Enemy goes through 300 years of history to reveal the reality of our profound differences. It's a little like having a friend confront you with the truth behind an ex-girlfriend: "Sure, she could turn on the charm, but remember all the times she was a shrew? As to her fidelity, buddy, you better sit down..."
You're able to walk away, keep that great pair of cuff links she gave you without a pang (think Statue of Liberty), and never look back.
As to the Publisher's Weekly review above, I get the sense that the reviewer didn't completely read the book. As another reviewer pointed out, Yorktown was addressed on pages 54-55, and any history of the Vietnam War (say, Karnow's) shows how the roots of the conflict go back to the French. Yes, the United States certainly dug itself in, but the authors don't dispute that.
Our Oldest Enemy is hardly revisionist with the facts, just with our rose-tinted perceptions.
I recommend the book. I enjoyed reading a lot of the details about circumstances that I know about in general, and learning new incidents.