T.J.'s Reviews > Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture

Fast Cars, Clean Bodies by Kristin Ross
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May 26, 08

bookshelves: history, master-s-degree, thinkin-critically
Recommended for: pretentious grad students, Francophiles, OCD soap users, that French film buff
Read in May, 2006

This is an utterly engaging read that looks at France at the disintegration of its colonial empire and its rebirth as a modern European state following World War II. The losses in Vietnam and Algeria play as distant backdrops to the rising consumer culture and need for soap and automobiles in a 1960's France eager for cheap Algerian labor (before they bitterly turned against the builders of their economic success two decades later). Ross is at times dry, other times bitingly clever as she traces the history of French postwar reconstruction through popular culture, making intriguing parallels between cleanliness, domination and order through uniquely positioning laundry advertisements against the prominent idea of "water torture" against the Algerians. It's a gutsy move, and one that works of far better than Anne McClintock could ever hope for.

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Quotes T.J. Liked

“Given the choice between fulfilling love and a washing machine, young people in the U.S. and the Soviet Union both chose the washing machine.”
Kristin Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture
tags: humor


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