Frostling's Reviews > 1000 Years of Annoying the French

1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke
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Jun 02, 2010

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Read in July, 2010

I am divided on this book. On one hand it’s an encompassing history lesson covering 1,000 years. A millennium which shows that no matter the country, history is mostly about greed and back stabbing, which translates into political/economical alliances or in medieval times, marrying into another kingdom to increase one’s land and domination. Meanwhile, in the background, the people can starve.

On the other hand, I am French, and I have discovered at my expense that this book does exactly what it says on the cover: it annoyed me. With such an amazing portrayal of French hypocrisy and silliness I think “1,000 Years” would fit nicely on the book shelves of Francophobes. In it they will find a full supply of delightful anecdotes, giving them all the amunitions they need to silence the arrogant French. Here are just a few:

William the Conqueror and Napoleon-the-dwarf (with very little body parts): they weren’t even French.

Baguettes and croissants: two Austrian inventions.

Edith Piaf and Coco Chanel: both were pro Nazi (to add to the fun, on page 448 the Wehrmacht troops are depicted whistling “Non Rien de Rien”, a song that has only been written in 1960 by Charles Dumont. I know, I subjected myself to the movie on Edith Piaf. British TV channels show about 10 foreign movies per year, if that. While in France 40% of the material broadcast on TV is made abroad.)

De Gaulle: An imbecile who couldn’t keep any plan secret.

WW2: a time where France was full of collaborators and women selling their bodies to soldiers.

The list is long because it being tongue in cheek, “1,000 Years” depicts a France that has nothing to be proud of. Thankfully we live in modern times and le ridicule ne tue plus. Ouf!
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Bruin Fisher I assume you mean British TV shows very few foreign *language* movies? Of course almost every movie shown on British TV was made in Hollywood...

Frostling You have a point Bruin, I should have said "foreign-language movies" in my comments. Very few of them are shown in England, although BBC4 sometimes broadcast movies or tv series from other European countries.

Bruin Fisher I agree, the UK and probably the US as well is extraordinarily blinkered about foreign language films, maybe because there's no shortage of English language films to fill the schedules - and the fact that so few Brits or Yanks can speak any other language!

message 4: by Earle (new)

Earle He pokes plenty of fun at the Brits as well.

message 5: by Meg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Meg I'm a Francophile (Australian) and I still enjoyed the book. I believe that if you are French you probably did not observe the many criticisms of the English, because they are already part of your cultural background. Eg Edward III invention of the despicable chevauchee. In any country, it is great to read a book to causes the reader to relook at accepted versions of history.

message 6: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie Now I have to read this!

message 7: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Falconer having read this book, I find I know want to read an equivalent book written from the French point of view, as I am sure I would find it educational and equally entertaining.

Jeroen Lemmens But you're not saying that TV shows in France are often broadcasted in another language but French, are you? I , honestly, have never seen anything in English or German on the French TV. BTW, in Belgium 10 - 20% is made abroad, so I win :D

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