book review

Vile France:
Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese
Dennis Boyles
Encounter Books, 2005, 162 pages Reviewed By

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created jan 7, 2007; last updated july 15, 2007

T he French, along with many of their fellow continental Western Europeans, have been bashing America for years. Their war of words has seriously strained the transatlantic relationship. Now that the Americans have started fighting back in kind, Europeans are starting to take notice. And they've discovered that they don't like it.

Vile France is one of the better of the latest batch of Made in America Euro-bashing books. It's a lighthearted, witty, and devastating critique of what other writers have called our oldest enemy: France. Boyles has lived in France, and his knowledge of everyday life in the Land of the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys is encyclopedic. He compares France with North Korea: both have awful economic health, both are enemies to the U.S., both are ruled by a bureaucratic elite, both have funny looking leaders, and both have communist control of the unions. The main difference is that in France, dogs in restaurants are under the tables, while in North Korea, dogs are on the menu. The only other difference is that, unlike the French, the North Koreans don't worship Jerry Lewis and Michael Moore. Says Boyles, "The British also despise the French, but at least they've had the pleasure of shooting at them in wars for the last five hundred years or so." Ouch.

Despite the unpleasant words, Americans recognize that Western Europe has long been the center of Western culture. If France disappears, as current trends predict could happen by roughly the middle of this century, a vital part of our culture will be lost. Ironically, the anti-Americanism of the Europeans is directed most strongly at the only faction that would ever have the will and the wherewithal to save them: the American right wing. Yet, says Boyles, perhaps they can't help themselves. Hating America is an essential part of being a Frenchman; being French, he avers, is their punishment.

Europeans should not fear this book. Rather, they should worry when Americans stop criticizing them. That would mean we have truly written them off as a lost cause.