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Testimony: France in the Twenty-First Centuryby Nicolas Sarkozy
Synopses & Reviews
"This book presents my analysis of the difficulties France faces. It outlines my proposals for putting France back on the path toward economic growth, social justice, and modernity. And it addresses many of the common domestic, international, economic, and social challenges that advanced democracies like France and the United States must confront." So writes Nicolas Sarkozy — France's outspoken and controversial minister of the interior and a leading presidential candidate — in the new preface to the American edition of his best-selling memoir.
Sarkozy decries French arrogance and complacency — it is time for the country to put its own house in order — and calls for the restoration of abandoned values: hard work, respect for authority and the family, and individual responsibility. He insists that his country's "monarchical" government is rudderless, if not moribund, and is too given to compromise and avoidance of hard decisions. In Testimony, for which he has drawn fire, Sarkozy issues a wake-up call to his people and the world, setting forth his iconoclastic views on such hot-button issues as international relations vis-à-vis the United States, the Arab world, and Africa; globalization; cultural chauvinism; immigration; the welfare state; education; and law and order.
Extraordinary for its candor regarding Sarkozy's political as well as personal life, Testimony gives us an unsparing critique of contemporary French society and its leaders even as it champions a sharp break with the past. Sarkozy's is a brave, new vision for France as it engages the world of the twenty-first century.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Sarkozy (president of the right-wing French political party, Union for a Popular Movement, and Minister of the Interior under Jacques Chirac) combines political memoir with analysis in setting out his views of contemporary French politics. The reason for this English translation (which combines 2006's Témoignage with portions of 2001's Libre) is not explicitly stated, but one could presume it is because of Sarkozy's affinity for American-style economic reforms, which he discusses in a chapter entitled "Rewarding Merit and Work," and because of his thoughts on foreign policy, which are notably more US-friendly than many other French politicians. Other chapters on the French educational system and French constitutional structures will be of interest mainly to students of French politics. Annotation Â©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In his international bestseller, France's leading presidential candidate and outspoken interior minister calls for an end to French arrogance and complacency and serves up some bracing news to his countrymen and the world.
About the Author
Nicolas Sarkozy was born in 1955 in Paris. Trained as a lawyer, he is president of France's governing political party, the right-of-center UMP (Union for a Popular Movement). He has served as mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine and, in the national government, as minister of the budget; minister of communication; minister of the economy, finance, and industry; and minister of the interior.
Editor and translator Philip H. Gordon is Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He has written for Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, and The Washington Quarterly, among other publications.
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