Archer's introductory metaphor, which he borrows from Schopenhauer, really says it all -- likening France and America to two...

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UNEASY FRIENDSHIP: France and the United States

Archer's introductory metaphor, which he borrows from Schopenhauer, really says it all -- likening France and America to two ""porcupines who huddle together for wintertime warmth, only to drive each other apart again in the spring with their quills."" The history that follows merely expands on that comparison, and though the highlights are familiar, the emphasis on European politics sheds some fight on such matters as Federalist opposition to the Louisiana Purchase (Jefferson was accused of acting as a ""fence"" for goods stolen from Spain). Archer also shows that American ambivalence towards both the French character and post-revolutionary governments was matched by similar misapprehensions on the part of the French, as demonstrated both by the informed skepticism of de Tocqueville and by Louis Philippe's attempts to copy the democratic style of American presidents in order to make his monarchy more palatable to the people. The summary of recent Franco-American relations is somewhat less satisfactory. FDR is excoriated for his obtuseness in failing to give De Gaulle due recognition as leader of the Free French, but the possibility that his reluctance ran deeper than a mere personality clash is not sufficiently investigated. None of this, including the brief final chapter on ""our exasperating friends,"" accounts for the currrent friction between ourselves and France, but it makes an interesting historical footnote, particularly as background to the study of early 19th century America.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Four Winds

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1972