Customer Reviews for

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French

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  • Posted July 20, 2009

    How and why French attitudes are so different from those in the US

    According to this very interesting book, French attitudes are quite different from those we think of as typical of people in the USA. This results in the two societies talking past one another on many topics, and being nonplussed by the other society. The book's chapters recount a number of the ways French attitudes, opinions, and society are different.

    Some examples: French people have very different notions about privacy. Imagine you strike up a conversation with a Frenchman previously unknown to you. Soon enough you will with total comfort ask the person his name, and soon enough after that , also what he does for a living. Americans do this without a second thought. The book informs us that a French person will find your curiosity uncalled for, rude, and quite offensive. For us Americans such a response would seem very bizarre.

    Another: the French love the exercise of power. They expect their politicians to brandish their power. A politician may treat an opponent's stance with scorn or ignore it altogether. Many Americans would consider this arrogance and would be offended. Far fewer French would; they would expect it; a politician too considerate of his opposition would be considered weak.

    Another example: French governance is unlike that in America. In France, says the book, there is only one government, the national government. Municipalities in France are largely administered by prefects sent to do so by the national government in Paris. There is hardly anything in the way of local police. The institution of police is national. Police are employees of the government in Paris; police are recruited nation-wide, and never stationed around their home towns, to reduce a source of prejudice in performance of their duties.

    A last example for now: contrary to the tendency in the US in recent decades, the French educational system practices an unapologetic elitism. In fact, there is a national network of specialized schools whose purpose is to identify and train elite students in numerous fields, such as governance, science and technology, agriculture, the military, and so on. That's right, there is an elite school for training future politicians and top-level administrators. You are not prevented from being a civil servant if you did not start in such a school, but you will have to pass examinations to be a civil servant, and undergo considerable retraining during your career as a civil servant.

    This book covers yet more areas of difference. It is an enjoyable and easy read, with plenty of surprises about how French society has sharp differences with American and other societies.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    Couldn't Stop Laughing

    A great read! A manual to the French psyche and the French way and the French world (and yes, they do live in a different world). Not just exaggeration on the differences, but also an analysis on how and why the French and us are so different.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    More info on Canada than I care for.

    This is a well researched book with a sufficient info on the French. What I didn't really care for were all of the references and facts about French Canadians. One of the authors apparently happens to be a French Canadian and obviously felt compelled to make some comparisons, but what I was really looking for was mainly information about France and it's customs, not on Canada and their French speaking people. If I wanted to know so much about the cultural and language differences between the Canadians and the French, I would have gone for a different book. On the next edition of this book maybe they can add a little Canadian flag to the cover so people aren't misled about the information they are getting. Thanks for sharing about your heritage Mr. Benoit, but you should add somewhere or give some kind of indication that there will be a good amount of info and comparing of Canada and France. As I said in earlier, I do appreciate the info on France in Europe. Most of the info was actually on France, but I could really care less for the info about Quebeckers vs. France.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2005

    Too Complicated

    Although I found the book informative, I thought it went too much in depth of the political situation in France. I did enjoy the fact that they explain French behavior but that they explained WHY THEY ACT THE WAY THEY DO. You can begin to understand that there is meaning behind everything and there is a reason for not cleaning up doggy poo and all sorts of other quirky things the French do.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2004

    Nadeau a raison!

    I'm curious if this English translation of Nadeau's 'Les Francais Aussi Ont un Accent' (literally: 'The French Too Have an Accent') will be as potent for an anglophone audience. As another French- Canadian who lived (10 years) in France, I found his observations about France, from the perspective of a Canadien-Francais, totally on target. The book was originally intended for francophones and when I read one person's critique saying she had a hard time following what Nadeau was talking about, I can see, from an American perspective, how that would be so. We French-Canadians who grow up with ancestral and linguistic ties to France find ourselves completely blown away at the arrogance, condescending attitude, and downright nastiness with which many French regard us, all the while as they profess us to be their 'cousins.' But as Nadeau analyzes the antagonism between 'la Vieille France' and 'la Nouvelle France' as well as with the rest of the world, he does so in a refreshingly witty manner, not holding back harsh criticism, yet tempering it with humour and compassion. This is one of my favourite books of all time and I definitely recommend it to people interested in entering the French psyche (and those interested in how France deals with the rest of the French-speaking world.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2014

    A great read

    I really enjoyed every bit of this book. It is well written, and helped me understand why the French feel the way they do. I would hope that a new book is forthcoming.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2004

    French 101-Introduction to French and France

    I was introduced to the book at a talk by the authors at the Maison Francaise in DC. Found the book to be interesting, fun and in general a good review of some of the basic concepts of French culture, notably the state, language and privacy. I am quite familiar with France and for me the book hardly represented anything new but several of my friends who are less familiar with France loved it too. I think the advantage of this book, is that is written with a North American perspective and audience in mind, and that should make it fairly easy for the American reader to understand and compare France and French to America and Americans. Easy to read and to enjoy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2004

    Highly Informative and Fun

    This book was just what I wanted. It added another dimension to French News, which I watch nightly on TV. My French is not so good and this book allowed me to penetrate another layer of French culture, which is usually only open to fluent French speakers. Simply and ably written, it moved fast and was a pleasure to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2003

    Love? No. Understand? Maybe a little better.

    No, not specialized. However, very interesting reading, even for those of us who know very little about the 'other' country across the pond. As for reading Julian Barnes instead of this work? Only, and I do mean only, if you have a love of Flaubert and French music of the latter 20th century. A wonderful read, but night and day from what I was looking for and found in 'Sixty Million Frenchman.........'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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