The new, futuristic France, it seems, has become the crazy man of Europe: ""Is France fated to undergo a kind of lobotomy, which will cure many of the old economic and social weaknesses, but also kill the old turbulent creativeness and individuality? Some of the current signs are not too encouraging."" Ardagh, a former London Times Paris correspondent who has been watching France (and interviewing Frenchmen) for the last dozen years, here amply describes the French approach-avoidance complex toward modernization in spite of recent social, economic, and cultural changes. Specifically: the improvement of factories, farms, and small shops; the rebirth of the provinces: the inception of town-planning in Paris; the ""fiercely contested"" reforms in birth control, education, and land ownership. The rise in the birth rate, which for obscure reasons has accompanied computerization, has given a new emphasis to youth. But, as Ardagh points out. ""la jeunesse"" as symbol of national vitality, masks the still strongly operative patriarchal values. Whereas De Gaulle, who is ""not typical of modern France,"" uses an authoritarian approach to implement often liberal and unorthodox ideas, the ordinary Frenchman uses a liberal approach to what have become elsewhere quite standard notions, vide, the spate of French pop singers with British names, the American-style canteens, the new mania for camera equipment, and most other trappings of technocratic societies. Ardagh's book skitters across the surface, but he has followed the conclusions of more penetrating observers, such as Francois Nourissier who offered them with more charm in The French (Knopf--p. 313).