James McAuley is the Paris correspondent for The Washington Post. (August 2019)

Follow James McAuley on Twitter: @jameskmcauley.

IN THE REVIEW

A More Perfect Union?

Members of the European Parliament in a plenary session to elect their new president, Strasbourg, July 3, 2019

Alarums and Excursions: Improvising Politics on the European Stage

by Luuk van Middelaar, translated from the Dutch by Liz Waters

How to Democratize Europe

by Stéphanie Hennette, Thomas Piketty, Guillaume Sacriste, and Antoine Vauchez, translated from the French by Paul Dermine, Marc LePain, and Patrick Camiller
For many who look at Europe from afar, its politics seem interesting only when conceived as a Trumpian spectacle: strongman blowhards attacking hollow liberal elites, a migration crisis at the border, a seemingly unstoppable right-wing international at the gates of power in capitals across the continent. In the months leading …

Low Visibility

A yellow vest demonstration, Paris, December 2018

Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, the Periphery, and the Future of France

by Christophe Guilluy, translated from the French by Malcolm DeBevoise
Even in France, a country where protest is a cherished ritual of public life, the violence and vitriol of the gilets jaunes movement have stunned the government. In a series of Saturday demonstrations that began in mid-November and have continued for three months, a previously dormant anger has erupted. Demonstrators have beaten police officers, thrown acid in the faces of journalists, and threatened the lives of government officials. There has been violence on both sides, and the European Parliament has condemned French authorities for using “flash-ball guns” against protesters, maiming and even blinding more than a few in the crowds. But the gilets jaunes have a flair for cinematic destruction. In late November they damaged parts of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris; in early January they commandeered a forklift and rammed through the heavy doors of the ministry of state. This is a modern-day jacquerie, an emotional wildfire stoked in the provinces and directed against Paris and, most of all, the elite.