In this informed and balanced treatment of recent French history, Julius Friend analyzes the changes, successes, and failures in the long and checkered record of former French president Fran�s Mitterrand. Extensive interviews with French politicians and intellectuals complement Friend's original research.Mitterrand was in office for fourteen years, longer than any other democratically elected president of France, but Friend asks us to consider the legacy of such a tenure. Elected in 1981 on a platform of radical reorganization of the French economy and society, Mitterrand was compelled to reverse policy within two years. Conventional austerity replaced socialist measures. His second term was spotted by scandal and he was weakened by illness. The Mitterrand era ended with a conservative victory that confirmed an earlier Socialist parliamentary defeat. In 1997 Mitterrrand heirs who reject part of his legacy returned to power.