The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism by Philippe Roger - review by Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson

Haute Hypocrisie

The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism


University of Chicago Press 536pp £24.50 order from our bookshop

This is a timely book and I wish it were a better one. Anti-Americanism has never been more intense in France, especially at the highest levels. It is marching in step with anti-Semitism, which, thanks to the huge influx of militant Muslims, is now more bloodthirsty in France than at any time since the Vichy years, when Jews were rounded up, held in their thousands in the ‘Vél d’Hiv’ (winter-sports stadium), then entrained to Auschwitz. Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism have a good deal in common, being largely irrational, contradictory, and often based on sheer ignorance.

Philippe Roger gives an example of the last point when he examines the anti-American campaign against McDonald’s waged by the left-wing newspaper Libération. One of the gestures French people were urged to make to show their hatred of all things American was to ‘Slip a lettuce-leaf into a Big Mac’.

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