Fixing France: How To Repair a Broken Republic

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Sept. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781541703254. $30. HIST
In 1958, in response to the Algerian revolt, Charles de Gaulle formed the Fifth Republic of France. Writing in a polemic tradition usually favored by reactionaries, journalist/scholar Ramdani argues that the time has come for a progressive Sixth Republic. The author details 10 areas in which the current government fails its people, especially marginalized ones, including in policing, work opportunities, religious and gender rights, and state sanctioned violence. Although successful at documenting these issues, this book fails to offer concrete solutions. Much of the historical background is solid, but the author shows an unstinting animosity toward de Gaulle and hurls vitriol upon French president Emmanuel Macron. The book’s comparisons of higher-education experiences, racial equality, and right-wing movements in the U.S. and the UK (Trumpism and Brexit) to those aspects in France aren’t particularly effective.
VERDICT Will appeal to readers of social justice movements and progressive causes in Europe and elsewhere, but it’s not an evenhanded historical or political analysis.
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