There are over 1,000 McDonald's on French soil. Two Disney theme parks have opened near Paris in the last two decades. And American-inspired vocabulary such as "le weekend" has been absorbed into the French language. But as former French president Jacques Chirac put it: "The U.S. finds France unbearably pretentious. And we find the U.S. unbearably hegemonic." Are the French fascinated or threatened by America? They Americanize yet are notorious for expressions of anti-Americanism. From McDonald's and Coca-Cola to free markets and foreign policy, this book looks closely at the conflicts and contradictions of France's relationship to American politics and culture. Richard Kuisel shows how the French have used America as both yardstick and foil to measure their own distinct national identity. They ask: how can we be modern like the Americans without becoming like them?
France has charted its own path: it has welcomed America's products but rejected American policies; assailed America's "jungle capitalism" while liberalizing its own economy; attacked "Reaganomics'" while defending French social security; and protected French cinema, television, food, and language even while ingesting American pop culture. Kuisel examines France's role as an independent ally of the United States--in the reunification of Germany and in military involvement in the Persian Gulf and Bosnia--but he also considers the country's failures in influencing the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. Whether investigating France's successful information technology sector or its spurning of American expertise during the AIDS epidemic, Kuisel asks if this insistence on a French way represents a growing distance between Europe and the United States or a reaction to American globalization.
Exploring cultural trends, values, public opinion, and political reality, The French Way delves into the complex relationship between two modern nations.
"[R]equired reading for anyone interested in relations between the world's two oldest republics."--Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs
"[D]emonstrates with chilling clarity the pattern of US hegemony."--David Hanley, Times Higher Education
"In this erudite study examining Franco-American relationships in the 1980s-90s on foreign policy, economics, and popular culture, Kuisel shows that US domestic and foreign policies were a deterrent to France's national identity."--Choice
"Richard Kuisel does a masterful job of highlighting and trying to make sense of numerous paradoxes surrounding the unique and complex French fears about Americanization at the turn of the millennium."--Sophie Meunier, H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews
"[E]ven the most traditional practitioners of U.S. diplomatic history, and likewise U.S. foreign-policy makers, will have much to learn from this revealing and masterful account of the French 'ways.'"--Alessandro Brogi, H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews
"[T]his is a marvelous book, a work of imaginative and sustained scholarship, bold and far-reaching in its scope, shrewd and incisive in its interpretation, a book in which the heady accumulation of detail in no way interferes with the elaboration of a clear big picture. One might question some aspects of certain conclusions, but there is no getting away from the fact that Kuisel is the absolute master of his subject. This is a book which will become a reference for scholars of France for generations to come."--Jolyon Howorth, H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews
"Kuisel offers a highly engaging and meticulously documented analysis. . . . Kuisel is . . . very persuasive in elucidating why the USA serves as an indispensable foil for France."--Gino Raymond, French Studies
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations ix
A Note on Anti-Americanism xix
Chapter 1: America à la Mode: The 1980s 1
Chapter 2: Anti-Americanism in Retreat: Jack Lang, Cultural Imperialism, and the Anti-Anti-Americans 45
Chapter 3: Reverie and Rivalry: Mitterrand and Reagan-Bush 99
Chapter 4: The Adventures of Mickey Mouse, Big Mac, and Coke in the Land of the Gauls 151
Chapter 5: T aming the Hyperpower: The 1990s 209
Chapter 6: The French Way: Economy, Society, and Culture in the 1990s 271
Chapter 7: The Paradox of the Fin de Siècle: Anti-Americanism and Americanization 329