Book Review: Jean Carbonnier, the French (R)evolution of 1958-1998

3 Colum. J. Eur. L. 453 (1997)

reviewed by Martin A. Rogoff. Professor of Law, University of Maine School of Law.

A remarkable experiment in constitutional government is underway in France and has been for some time. Americans should take notice, give credit, and perhaps learn a thing or two from it. The French experience since 1958 is a heartening reminder that fundamental political and legal change can occur in an orderly and peaceful way, even in a large, complex society with hoary and ingrained political and ideological traditions. Dean Carbonnier’s book, Droit et passion du droit sous la Ve République, provides an excellent and accessible (to those who read French) starting point for appreciating what has occurred in France by furnishing a concise overview of recent developments in both public and private law and by highlighting the central role that law and legal  institutions are playing in the political, economic, and social life of the Fifth Republic. Above all, the author seeks to convey the spirit of the legal developments that have been underway in France since 1958, which he characterizes as a “passion for law.”