Roberto E. Campo
Professor of French
Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not the French by Jean-Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow
As a professor of French literature, culture, and language, I am, by profession and nature, keenly interested in the images of France and her people promoted in the media, exploited in political discourse, and expressed by students, colleagues and friends. Especially troubling are the extremes in perception we have all witnessed over the past few years, whether they be unfairly disparaging or unduly romanticized. To my mind, Nadeau and Barlow's 2003 "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong" (which was translated into French in 2005 under the equally memorable title, "Pas si fous, ces Français": Not So Crazy, These Frenchmen), is commendable for offering perhaps the most honest look at all aspects of contemporary French society and the French "spirit" in print today. Although rather more anecdotal than academic, this book provides a broad and largely accurate context for understanding those quirks of temperament and behavior that simultaneously so annoy and charm Americans (indeed the French themselves!), and it has proven invaluable to me as a scholar, teacher, and citizen of our modern world.