Highly popular in France following his May 2007 election as president, Nicolas Sarkozy has since seen his star fall, due in part to the French public's resentment of his flashy and well-publicized private life. These two recent works suggest that a degree of self-destruction may have been inevitable. The first book is an artsy, impressionistic portrait based on the access Sarkozy granted the author during his presidential campaign. Reza reveals him to be like some of the alpha-male characters in her award-winning plays: egotistical, sometimes juvenile, always desperate for attention. She also depicts a Sarkozy who can be smart, charming, and a deeper thinker than he seems. The book is disjointed, and non-French readers may lose patience following Sarkozy around to his meetings with local politicians they have never heard of. But Reza does seem to have captured something important about the man. In a very different way, so has Faure, the former New York correspondent for Le Figaro, who was forced to spend her 2007 summer holiday covering the Sarkozy family's high-profile visit to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Humorously describing Sarkozy's brief American adventure, she captures the French president's willingness to buck convention -- not just choosing the United States as a tourist destination but also jogging in shorts and picnicking with the Bush family in Kennebunkport. This was a far cry from Charles de Gaulle's discreet late summers in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, and the French are still trying to adjust.
Get the latest book reviews delivered right to your inbox.