France on the Brink: A Great Civilization in the New Century

France on the Brink: A Great Civilization in the New Century

by Jonathan Fenby

Paperback(Second Edition)

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France today remains in crisis. High unemployment, an archaic economic system, a self-selecting governing class unable to handle serious problems, and a debilitating nostalgia for things past have created a nation less able than ever to fulfill its role as a world leader. The economic crisis and the European Union’s ongoing fiscal instability, as well as a parade of scandals at the top, have left it weaker than ever into the second decade of the new century.

In this book, Jonathan Fenby lovingly but candidly offers an unvarnished picture of modern France, setting it in the context of its glorious past. He explores the problems and the challenges that it faces, as well as the opportunities that lie ahead. Filled with contemporary and historical anecdotes, France on the Brink depicts the many contradictory aspects of the country that so many people love to hate. This eye-opening look at the world’s most complex, seductive, and sometimes infuriating country will give even the most knowledgeable Francophile plenty to think about.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628723175
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 648,375
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Fenby reported from France for a variety of newspapers, including the Economist, Christian Science Monitor, Times of London, Guardian, and London Observer. Married to a Frenchwoman, he was, to his surprise, made a Chevalier of the French Order of Merit in 1990. He is also the author of acclaimed biographies of Charles de Gaulle and Chiang Kai-shek, among other works. He lives in England.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Map xvi

1 A Special Place 1

2 Behind the Mask 29

3 Economic Matters 52

4 Vanishing Madeleines 77

5 Country Living 101

6 Modern Times 131

7 Another France 157

8 Spectre at the Feast 183

9 Divided We Stand 216

10 Three Men and a Country 252

11 Friends of François 276

12 A French Life 297

13 The Jaws of Victory 317

14 From Bling to Normal 350

15 On the Brink 394

Bibliography 405

Index 410

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France on the Brink: A Great Civilization in the New Century 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
Now understand France! VERDICT: Enjoying the beach in Southern France is fine. If you want to go deeper and start understanding the current social, economic, and political situation of that country, this is THE book you need to read. In this totally updated edition of France on the Brink (which includes data about President Hollande), Jonathan Fenby tries to understand a country that may seem puzzling to many: it attracts millions of tourists every year, 84 millions in 2013, Americans have a very romantic a view about anything and everything French, yet at the same time France is experiencing “double-digit unemployment, a rampant extremist party of the far right and [they are] a people who reject the elite that has ruled them for decades” (p.x). The French are notoriously unhappy, despairing, and complaining about many things if not all, especially about their economy and their political leaders. To understand what’s going one, Fenby gives us a “portrait of France today and a longer -range account of the evolution of the country” (p.xi) since the 1950s. This nonfiction book deserves more than my usual review format. I will try to sum up some main elements of each chapter, including many quotations.To reach it, type my reviewer name, wordsandpeace, in a search engine, and my site should come up on top.
booknerdDS More than 1 year ago
France on the Brink by Jonathan Fenby was a fascinating read. Although I think I'm pretty knowledgeable about current events and political situations there were many interesting things that I did not know about France, french culture and french people.  I found this book to be very interesting and very informative.  It's 400 plus pages so there is a wealth of information.  What distinguished this book for me was the authors voice throughout.  It felt like a very personal journey through France and its history. Fenby deals with a lot of tough topics and he is very honest and candid about some of the aspects of France that aren't as glamorous as expected.  I specifically fond it very interesting that such a high number of french people are looking to retire outside of France.  The discontent with French politics was very interesting but I personally think that this discontentment could be shared with a large part of Europe.  I found his portrait of Chirac to be very blunt and straightforward.  One of my favorite parts was the wealth of french culture and history, it was described with such richness that its easy to see why France is still revered. One aspect that I found a little surprising was the ethnic diversity and also some of the prejudices held.  I found this to be a little surprising.  If anyone is looking to learn and read about the current situation of french life this is a must read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned much more than I had expected.