Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow writes about what influences the French way of living and thinking in this book. They lived in France for 2 years during the dawn of new millennium. They were sponsored by New Hampshire-based Institute of Current Affairs to conduct a study of France. During their stay in Paris, they made a lot of friends who helped them in piecing the big puzzle named France. Of course, their French friends were also suspicious about their motives as described in the book.
France protested against globalization in 1999 by destroying a McDonald’s outlet. Are they against free trade?
France has a centralized government where Paris is the seat of power. How can centralization work? But it does!
The French love grandeur and endorses elites. Isn’t this against the foundation of democracy where all citizens are to treated as equal?
Those are some of the questions that are answered in this book. There are many surprises too. The French admire eloquence in their leaders. The French love their land. The state is more important than an individual; so are the leaders in a way. So, the French has concentrated their energy in assimilation of various regions which spoke different languages, a few centuries ago, into one country. The World War II had deflated the self confidence of French people. Charles de Gaulle was instrumental in restoring the pride of France. The Algerian war had scarred the country which are still not healed completely. The book also explains how the government works in addition to the challenges faced by modern France.
Using simple language, anecdotes and French expressions, Jean-Benoit and Julie succeeds in demystifying the stereotypical difficult French. At the end, the reader is awe-stricken by the French way of life. This book is recommended to everyone who plans to live in France or are already living in France. For them, this is a must-read. If you are a person who casually brushes off the news about French with “You know, it is France”, then this is recommended for you too.