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Chapter Nineteen. Theodore Roosevelt and the “Special Relationship” with France

David G. Haglund


The French, it is often remarked, do not seem to care very much for American political and military leaders – or for the people they lead, for that matter ( Mathy 1993 ; Revel 2002 ; Roger 2002 ). Whether this generalization happens to be sustainable or not, it is obvious that there have been some American luminaries for whom the French (meaning informed elites and, in some cases, the broader public) do care a great deal, and if any reminder were needed, all one would have to do is note the lofty regard in which Barack Obama is today held in France, where his approval ratings remain reasonably steady at a much higher level than in the United States, where they have been plummeting considerably since his inauguration in January 2009. One French historian and biographer, Claude Fohlen, lamented that occasionally the French can even forget some of those few American leaders of whom they have demonstrably at one time been extremely fond, and he went on to note that it seemed to have taken a popular movie from the mid-1990s called “Jefferson in Paris” to remind Parisians that one of their all-time American favorites, Benjamin Franklin, had an immediate successor as his country's representative in the French capital who was every bit as committed as Franklin had been to fomenting closer Franco-American relations and to defending France's interests in the court of American public opinion ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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