Although the subtitle of Joseph Chowanietz’s study is ‘France’s Response to Terrorism’, much of this work is framed by American approaches to terrorism and counter-terrorism. It begins with a strong emphasis on the United States since 9/11. The World Trade Center attacks of 2001 are an important reference point in many parts of the book and, indeed, the author’s final remarks concentrate strongly on these events in New York rather than any of the attacks that France has endured in recent years. France is in fact a country that is examined along with four others (Germany, Spain, the UK, and the US) in a study that focuses largely on data sets based on close study of newspapers in this quintet of nations, rather than overarching narratives or public discourse on terrorism. Chowanietz’s stated overall objective places his study within a context that is clearly not restricted to focusing on France, seeking to ‘contribute to a better understanding of how terrorism affects Western societies’ (p. 7). It is only in the last of the book’s five chapters — admittedly the most substantial — that the author’s prime focus is on France. In the earlier chapters, it would have been interesting to see the focus on uses of the American flag in the aftermath of terrorist attacks lead into discussion of uses of the French flag in similar contexts. Within the more detailed examination of the situation in France in the fifth chapter, some potentially significant points could have been developed with greater detail or clarity. For example, Chowanietz states that the cohabitations of 1986–88 and 1993–95 were both periods ‘marked by intense terrorist activities’ (p. 106), but does not make clear if this was due to specific political reasons or simply coincidence. By focusing on the years 1980–2015 in this final main chapter, there is perhaps insufficient space within which to provide as detailed an examination as might be wished for of significant events in France during this period. There is, however, some cogent analysis of the significance of Marine Le Pen not being invited to be part of the lead group of politicians at the march of unity that followed the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher in January 2015. Chowanietz argues that there is something somewhat paradoxical about Marine Le Pen on one hand having sought to ‘normalize’ the Front national but also seeking to ‘portray herself, her party, and her supporters as victims of the system’ due to being effectively excluded from the group of politicians at the front of the unity march (p. 149). The date of this work’s publication means that, whilst it discusses the attacks that took place in Paris during January and November of 2015, it does not cover the 2016 Bastille Day attack in Nice. Such events will doubtless feature in further works, given the major challenges to France’s national security that have emerged in recent years. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
French Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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