The Making of Les Bleus
Sport in France, 1958-2010
Lexington Books 2012
New Books Network June 18, 2014 ROXANNE PANCHASI
Did you catch the French national team’s triumph in its first match against Honduras at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil? Well I did and it was fantastic. I was particularly excited knowing that the next morning, I was scheduled to interview Lindsay Krasnoff about her new book, The Making of Les Bleus: Sport in France, 1958-2010 (Lexington Books, 2012). An illuminating account of French sport since 1958, the book links the histories of football (soccer) and basketball to some of the major issues of the postwar period: the baby boom, the development of a consumer culture and new media, the Cold War, and decolonization. Moving from the “sports crisis” that preoccupied French policy makers in the wake of France’s poor showing at the 1960 Rome Olympics through the decades that led to the 1998 World Cup and subsequent victories, The Making of Les Bleus is a history of sport and politics that examines the interplay of the two on the national and international stages.
Covering a period of over fifty years, the book considers sports as a primary means by which the French state sought to obtain and expand its own “soft power” in the world arena through the encouragement of national sports programs and culture. Krasnoff has drawn on an impressive range of archival material, as well as numerous interviews that provide readers with a unique perspective on recent years for which much of the written record remains off-limits to researchers. Concluding with a discussion of the most recent “sports crisis” in France (the national football team has suffered some serious losses in the last several years), Krasnoff’s study places more recent events in French sports culture in the context of a nation struggling with competing definitions of Frenchness. And I didn’t miss the chance to ask this expert for her thoughts on France’s odds this World Cup round. We are both optimistic…
*Note: The views that Lindsay expresses in the interview are hers alone and do not represent those of her employer, the U.S. Department of State, or the U.S. Government. Information presented here is based on publicly available, declassified sources and oral history interviews.