In This Review

The Mitterrand Years: Legacy and Evaluation
The Mitterrand Years: Legacy and Evaluation
Edited by Mairi Maclean
St. Martin's Press, 1998, 336 pp

A senior lecturer at the University of London, Maclean has compiled a fine collection of essays by French and British specialists to present a rich balance sheet of the two terms of Fran‡ois Mitterrand. Most of the volume is devoted to describing how "Mitterrandisme" affected French culture, diplomacy, defense, socialism, and the state. Among the main themes are the persistence of dirigisme, which receded in some sectors while expanding in others, and the replacement of traditional socialism with the inadequate "Republican model" of national and civic integration around the state. The book also covers the failure of the antiracism movement, the mixed record on the promotion of women, and Mitterrand's embrace of European economic and monetary union. The chapters on the relations between the state and the broadcast media and between the state and the cinema are informative and critical.

On Mitterrand's legacy, author opinion varies from belief in his leadership (Maclean) to skepticism about his record of "unintended achievements" (Alistair Cole). The only important gap in this survey is the effect of Mitterrand and the "cohabitation" of 1986 to 1988 and 1993 to 1995 between a Socialist president and his conservative cabinet on the institutions of the Fifth Republic.