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.