As Sophie Pedder notes in her excellent and lavishly sourced account of Macron’s 'quest to reinvent a nation,' the French promise to reform at home—and conforming with EU fiscal rules is just part of a package of domestic measures designed to reassure Berlin—is a quid pro quo. In return for seeing through unpopular changes to the supply side of the French economy, as well as stabilizing the public finances, Macron expects Germany to support his ambitious plans for deeper integration of the eurozone ... Pedder is sensitive...to Macron’s capacity for looking ridiculous—his avowed aim to be a 'Jupiterian' president will have elicited smiles in chancelleries across Europe. But she also recognizes that he has thought deeply about the symbolic weight that the presidency carries ... Pedder suggests that it is better to see him as the inheritor of a distinctively French social-democratic tradition known as the 'deuxième gauche' (second left) associated with former Socialist prime minister Michel Rocard.
Ms. Pedder tracked Mr. Macron through his time as minister of economy and finance all the way to the Élysée Palace, watching him apply his rare intellect and enormous energy to the challenge of achieving power and now modernizing France. He emerges from her account as a most unusual character, but perhaps the man his country needs ... Ms. Pedder has written a terrific first draft of a history with significance far beyond the borders of France.
She is clearly an admirer. But even Macron-sceptics will admire the detachment and skill that she has brought to her task. Written with concise elegance, this is a good primer on the story so far ... The best chapter tells how Macron jumped ship from the decaying socialist government to set up En Marche! with a team of nerdy millennials and a few wise old heads ... In a book full of affection for France and hope for its leader, Pedder admits that melancholy is treated by the French as a badge of national identity. 'Optimism,' says a disabused Candide in Voltaire’s novel, 'is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.' A bon mot, well picked as are so many of Pedder’s quotes. Perhaps her sequel will tell us how Macron proved Voltaire wrong.
As Sophie Pedder, the Paris bureau chief of the Economist, writes in her panegyric on Macron’s rise to power, no poll even bothered to test his presidential chances a year before the election: ‘his hopes of building a political movement capable of taking on the existing party machines...looked like a far-fetched fantasy' ... In a chapter devoted to ‘his guiding ideology,' Pedder finds ‘a narrative built upon solidarity as well as opportunity,’ an effort to strike ‘a new balance between liberty and protection, in which an enabling state becomes a tool for individual advancement.’ This view privileges Macron’s words over his deeds. When one turns from the professed philosophy to the policies, what is left of Macron’s self-proclaimed ‘progressivism’? ... Macron’s ‘idea of Europe,’ which Pedder praises as ‘grandiose, historically sweeping, overly intellectual, stylistically extravagant, baffling, but also admirable,’ seems at odds with his actions. Not only has he failed to relieve the pressure on southern European countries...but he seems to be facilitating the rise of an axis of hardliners, which now includes the interior ministries of Italy, Austria and Germany.
'It is a mistake to try to cast Macron as a pure liberal in the English-speaking economic tradition. His roots are on the progressive centre-left that reconciled itself to the market economy,' writes Pedder, and she is spot-on ... At a time when the political opposition in France is made up mostly of dangerous left-wing and right-wing populists, Pedder’s book is a breath of fresh air for the calmness and intelligence with which she deciphers and dissects the man and the politician.
Journalist Pedder, a longtime observer of French politics, argues in this excellent political biography that quiet revolutions—such as Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche political movement, which propelled him to the presidency of France in 2017—are no less ambitious than those driven by bomb-throwers and rioters in the street. After a beginning reminiscent of the dense and wordy essays of French political commentators, the author lays out the appealing contradictions of the man and his movement ... Wit, insight, and lots of time with the principal subject make this a terrific, beyond-the-basics introduction to present-day France for those who follow modern politics.
...an insightful examination of the rise, vision, and potential impact of France’s youngest president ... With only one year’s administration to examine, the author draws on Macron’s campaign promises to delineate his ambitions for addressing problems in education, unemployment, immigration, globalization, and relationships with the rest of Europe and America. An authoritative analysis of power and politics in contemporary France.