Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization

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Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization

By Richard F. Kuisel
University of California Press, 1992
296 pp. $30.00

A fine study of French attitudes toward America and toward the presence of American culture, real and putative, in French life after World War II. The author, a well-known American historian of France, emphasizes how political, economic and cultural elements combined there to produce the violent anti-Americanism of the 1950s, on both the left and the right, if for different reasons. He sketches its gradual attenuation. There was fear of American political domination and revulsion from the American consumer society that had gradually made its way into French life by infiltration and emulation. To become modernized, as France did especially during the Gaullist period, implied a society of abundance: "The French response was as much adaptive as it was imitative." The book combines careful research into representative episodes with keen analysis and a pleasing style: an unpretentious contribution to important themes, instructive and remarkably topical.

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