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Is France French?

Can France stay distinctive in a globalised world?

By prospect   February 2000

What galileo said about the solar system-that it defied common sense, with the earth actually orbiting the sun-could be applied to France, too. Many analysts, after establishing the long list of France’s failures, reluctantly concede that this strange country remains the world’s fourth largest economy and still has an influence which extends far beyond what economic and demographic logic might suggest.

This paradox is the starting point of a new book, The French Exception by Andrew Jack, a former correspondent of the Financial Times in Paris. He writes that “the principal reason to examine French exceptionalism-and the main weakness of…

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