Saturday, 13 June 2020

The Last President of Europe

The Last President of Europe
William Drozdiak’s study of Emmanuel Macron, The Last President of Europe, takes stock of Macron’s presidency three years after his election. This is a mostly admiring account, as the subtitle (Emmanuel Macron's Race to Revive France and Save the World) makes clear. Drozdiak interviewed Macron both on and off-the-record, at the Élysée Palace and in Washington.

The book begins with a brief recap of Macron’s domestic reforms and the ‘gilets jaunes’ (‘yellow vests’) protests against his government. This section is overly sympathetic to Macron, with the crisis considered largely from his perspective. (Three paragraphs begin with “Macron believes...”, for example.) Macron is portrayed as a victim of the protesters—his guards “pushed him inside his limousine as the menacing crowd approached”—and their anger is presented as discourteous to the office of the presidency.

Whereas Sophie Pedder’s Revolution française focused on Macron’s domestic agenda, The Last President of Europe is mainly concerned with foreign policy. There are chapters on Macron’s bilateral relations with Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and, of course, Donald Trump. (The US President apparently asked Macron flatly: “Why don’t you leave the European Union?”, rendering the unflappable Macron speechless.)

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