An authoritative analysis of power and politics in contemporary France.

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REVOLUTION FRANÇAISE

EMMANUEL MACRON AND THE QUEST TO REINVENT A NATION

An optimistic view of France’s future under Emmanuel Macron.

Journalist Pedder, the Paris bureau chief of the Economist and commentator on French politics for CNN and the BBC, makes her literary debut with an insightful examination of the rise, vision, and potential impact of France’s youngest president. Based on interviews with Macron, his staff, scores of politicians (including Macron’s combative right-wing opponent, Marine Le Pen), as well as ordinary French citizens, the author offers an adroit, revealing overview of contemporary France and its dynamic leader. Macron, as Pedder portrays him, is nothing less than extraordinary, with “an ability to think ahead and see the big picture; a capacity to create and exploit opportunities, and take risks; and a determination, bordering on ruthlessness.” Calm, focused, and hardworking, he “knows what he wants, and what he needs to do to get it.” Early in his career, he had his eye on the presidency: He spent two years as adviser to François Hollande and then served another two years as his economy minister. Although positioned “at the heart of the French establishment,” when he mounted his own campaign, he ran as an outsider, a disrupter, whose new party attracted the liberal center. Pedder ascribes his success to his “transgressive personality, an insolent ambition, a calculating visionary mind—and a big splash of luck.” Scandals enveloping some opponents, as well as Le Pen’s disastrous performance in a TV debate, helped to bolster Macron’s image. The author underscores the difference between Macron and his predecessors, Jacques Chirac (“a professional schemer, old-school charmer and political chameleon”), flamboyant Nicolas Sarkozy, and tepid Hollande. She also offers a cleareyed view of Macron’s many challenges, notably the “fracture running through the country, between prosperous and confident metropolitan centres and the drive-past second-tier towns and deserted rural areas.” With only one year’s administration to examine, the author draws on Macron’s campaign promises to delineate his ambitions for addressing problems in education, unemployment, immigration, globalization, and relationships with the rest of Europe and America.

An authoritative analysis of power and politics in contemporary France.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4729-4860-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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