The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us--and Why the Feeling Is Mutual

The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us--and Why the Feeling Is Mutual

3.2 9
by Richard Z. Chesnoff
     
 

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Arrogance, snootiness, back-stabbing, and disdain. To paraphrase DeGaulle, what else would you expect from a country with 246 varieties of cheese?

The French have given Americans a harder time on the international stage than anyone else. Driven by their own self-importance, and their frustration at no longer being a superpower, the French talk down to us with

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Overview

Arrogance, snootiness, back-stabbing, and disdain. To paraphrase DeGaulle, what else would you expect from a country with 246 varieties of cheese?

The French have given Americans a harder time on the international stage than anyone else. Driven by their own self-importance, and their frustration at no longer being a superpower, the French talk down to us with galling self-righteousness. They hate our movies, our tourists, our food, and especially our politicians.

But as Richard Chesnoff points out, the love/hate relationship between France and America didn't start with the election of George W.Bush, or even Ronald Reagan. It goes all the way back to the days of the Benjamin Franklin and that uppity Rene Descartes. (Never trust a man named Rene.) And compared to Charles DeGaulle, Jacques Chirac is a piece of cake to work with.

France's attitude has always been a problem, explains Chesnoff, who has lived in France for the past twenty years while writing for major American magazines and newspapers. He explains how the French really think and what drives their jealousy and arrogance. His maddening experiences while living among the French will raise your blood pressure, make you laugh, and give you plenty of reasons to jeer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pitched somewhere between just kidding and deeply affronted, this book from the veteran U.S. News Paris correspondent (and now contributing editor) systematically airs most of the complaints on both sides of the Franco-American equation, but with an exasperated jingoism that makes clear on every page where his loyalties lie. That heightened tone is part of the point, mirroring the heated, and mostly empty, rhetoric he finds has been bridging the Atlantic for the past 300 years. But Chesnoff's pro-U.S. J'accuse has a set of specific charges that include weakness during WWII, wrongness on Israel, collusion with terror from the 1960s on and oil deals with Saddam that, he says, drove recent French policy on Iraq. Threaded throughout his familiar and very broad stroke macropolitical analyses are micropolitical ones, as Chesnoff goes into great detail, for example, about the mechanics of his rural neighbor's concerted dislike of him (wryly noting that "it probably didn't help that I was a J-E-W"). The result is a kind of slapdash anti-A Year in Provence, drawing on a lifetime's anecdotes of tranger insult with a variety of untempered history lessons thrown in. (Apr. 25) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Those irritating Frenchies. Only they would see America as "the worst kind of beautiful woman: a powerful woman that we desire but feel unworthy of and whom we must therefore degrade." Thus spoke actor-singer Yves Montand in an interview with onetime U.S. News & World Report correspondent Chesnoff (Pack of Thieves, 1999)-and if the urbane Montand thought of America so, then imagine what ill thoughts your average perfidious Parisian must be harboring about us. Of course, Montand was Italian, just as the famously anti-American Jean-Paul Sartre was Belgian. But never mind: The French liked them, so they go on the suspect list, for, by Chesnoff's account, the French and their ilk suffer from fundamental and fatal flaws: They insist on speaking French, despite "the diminished utility of French in worldly affairs," insist on nursing Cartesian concepts, insist on insisting that they have a place at the world table. Plus they opposed the Iraq invasion, and some of them helped the Germans during WWII, which makes them surrender monkeys. Plus "France is a vertical society where rules and regulations come from on high," whereas America is ruled by consensus. (Did you ever doubt it?) Plus they like Jerry Lewis and Michael Moore-and Chesnoff doesn't even get around to Mickey Rourke. Only readers who take such premises seriously will enjoy Chesnoff's diatribe, expressed in sideways assertions that, for instance, our media are superior to theirs because we stopped paying attention to Janet Jackson's breasts after a while, whereas they're still fixated on "an aging Belgian-born pop star named Johnny Halliday" (that would be "Hallyday," monsieur). None of which keeps Chesnoff from maintaining a residencein the Midi, where his neighbors, of course, are rude to him just because they're French and can't help it. . . . Anyone who knows France will recognize this as a half-cooked canard. Anyone who wants to know about what distinguishes France from the U.S. can read Raymonde Carroll's infinitely superior Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience (1990). That leaves the freedom-fry crowd, and they're welcome to this book.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595230102
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/21/2005
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Sean Hannity
"At this point in history, we need to understand whether the French are going to continue to be our friends or not. This book will open your eyes!"
Michael Barone
"Why do they hate us? It's a question Americans ask not just about Islamist terrorists but also about the French. Chesnoff provides the answers. Americans-and the French-will learn a lot from this book."
senior writer, U.S. News & World Report,and coauthor, Hard America, Soft America
Clifford D. May
"Richard Z. Chesnoff insightfully-and entertainingly-explores America's most dysfunctional relationship with America's least reliable ally."
president, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Dennis Miller
"France sucks, but this book doesn't."
host, Dennis Miller Live
Bill O'Reilly
"Why do the French hate America? Richard Chesnoff has figured it out and informs us with entertaining clarity."
anchor, The O'Reilly Factor

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