The myth of France's 'glorious' post-war years

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In a bid to regain its lost competitive advantage on the world stage, France has just set out an ambitious plan for revitalising its industrial base. Coincidentally a recently-published book takes a critical look at the real costs of the country's last drive to modernise, during the so-called 'Thirty Glorious Years' of the post-war period. Its authors argue that, contrary to received wisdom, human and environmental concerns were sacrificed on the altar of an all-out quest for productivity during that period, while dissenting voices were silenced. Joseph Confavreux reviews the book.

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The timing couldn't be more apt. Just as Arnaud Montebourg, the minister for industrial renewal, announced with fanfare a drive to re-industrialise France anchored firmly in the country's tradition of dirigisme, a newly-published book sheds a critical light on Les Trente Glorieuses, the 30 'glorious' years of post-war prosperity often cited as a prime example of the success of French centralised economic planning.