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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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Top Customer Reviews
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
This is a must read for anyone moving to France. Quite simply the French see the world differently to those raised in the English speaking world. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Iain Wright
Canadian authors Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow lived in France from 1999 to 2001 on a fellowship to study why the French resist globalization. Read morePublished 13 days ago by John Jenkins
I live in France and this is a great help in understanding the country, and also ion confirming many of my perceptions about the French.Published 1 month ago by Sharon Derham
A lot of interesting information ( the background info for the 35 hour workweek was especially interesting considering the recent change)--thanks!Published 1 month ago by Elizabeth
I learned some things I didn't know about France and its people. However the authors beat each subject to death as they at the same time demonstrated the usual smugness of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by ron naples florida
Informative albeit a little out of date with the politics but covers some strong ingrained ways the French look at the world and a great understanding of the French political... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Roderick Thornton
My 25 y/o daughter recently traveled to Europe from California. She arrived and left two weeks before the attack in Paris. Read morePublished 3 months ago by john dougherty