Eleven social scientists from both sides of the Atlantic have contributed to this rich, stimulating, deep, and complex assessment of the French economic and social system and of the changes that have transformed it in the past 20 years. They provide a clear picture of a country where multiple shifts in a small number of years have not only erased many aspects of the proud self-image of the early years of the Fifth Republic but also left the nation confused and divided about its future and its elite devoid of a sense of direction. Hall, the director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard, states that "France no longer has 'a state above society,' but one in which power is so diffusely divided among local, national and European organs of governance so that it can be difficult to establish who is responsible for a specific line of policy." An incisive essay on representation shows how France's openness -- to globalization, to Europe, to immigration -- has bred anxiety and discontent. The troubles that have hit France in 2005-6 have confirmed many of these analyses.