OUR OLDEST ENEMY by John J. Miller


A History of America’s Disastrous Relationship with France
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Here you thought the bad guys were hanging out in Pyongyang and Peshawar, when it turns out they’re all in Paris.

In this blockheaded contribution to international understanding, National Review politics reporter Miller and Harvard lecturer Molesky paint a malign portrait of the evil, cheese-eating, constantly surrendering, cryptofascist, sniveling French, who have been the villains on the world stage vis-à-vis les Americains ever since they tried to do in George Washington in one of the backwoods campaigns of the Seven Years War. Then they tried to mess with Thomas Jefferson, even though he had bought all that nice wine and furniture from them. Then they shot at Americans who were invading their turf in Operation Torch, and they just got in the way at Operation Overlord. Then they questioned the wisdom of the American invasion of Iraq, hinting—the swine—that maybe unilateral military action wasn’t the best approach to le problème de Saddam. By Miller and Molesky’s account, the more recent effronteries speak to the “French reluctance to accept a new role in a democratic world order led by the United States,” apparently because they haven’t heard that someone died and made us Dieu. The sins multiply, never mind the historical complexities (and, at turns, never mind the facts, period): when Clemenceau remarked, “God gave us his Ten Commandments, and we broke them. Wilson gave us his Fourteen Points—we shall see,” he wasn’t voicing world-weariness about human nature, but rank anti-Americanism. The Khmer Rouge wouldn’t have killed all those people if Pol Pot hadn’t hung around Paris smoking cigarettes and reading Marxist theory in French translation. Americans would still read books, but probably not Marxist ones, if it weren’t for those damned deconstructionists. And so on, to the perverse conclusion that now that Baghdad is ours, the world is a safer place, even with all those French-speaking Muslims at large in the world.

Unfounded, partial, and chauvinistic, without an ounce of cultural-relativist baggage or Cartesian logic. Which is to say: très drôle if you’re in the right mood, and très stupide if you’re not.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-51219-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2004


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