Quai d’Orsay, vol. 2

Summary: Following 9/11, President Bush’s “War on Terror” with plans to invade Iraq erupted into a cultural clash between French reluctance and American assurance over the case for “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Arthur Vlaminck, speechwriter for the French Foreign Minister, and part of a team of flamboyant ministerial advisors, has been tasked with drafting France’s response to the growing international crisis in the Middle East, which is then delivered before the United Nations Security Council.

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Quai d’Orsay, vol. 2, by Abel Lanzac and Christophe Blain 7.5

Following the events of the first book, Arthur is sent to New York with Minister de Vorms and a French delegation for an emergency United Nations meeting over the United States’ plans to invade Lousdem. He’s about to get a crash course in diplomacy.

But he has other things on his mind: Marina had moved to the U.S. to study at Yale and he’s eager to see her again. But where can he find the time to fit her in his tight and erratic schedule? And what impact will this have on his crucial speechwriting?

…and vice versa?

Much of this book is dry, with subtle touches of humour perking up the proceedings. It consists of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing as de Vorms tries to negotiate with U.N. members to get a French resolution passed that would alter the course of history.

Minister de Vorms is aiming for peace.

But can he succeed?

*cough cough*

On the whole, volume 2 is a more cohesive offering, being a full story instead of a series of vignettes that essentially set the stage. Here it’s all set and we’re deep into the internal conflicts; dialogues are more somber since they’re trying to prevent war.

It’s interesting to see this alternate take on the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq with Colin Powell being replaced by his doppelgänger Jeffrey Cole. In some ways, it makes me think that this is a French equivalent to ‘In the Loop‘ – without the acerbic humour.

It so turns out that the book was eventually produced as a motion picture starring Thierry Lhermitte as de Vorms. I’m very curious to see how it translates from page to screen, as this material does have the potential of being very funny, if handled correctly.

We soon shall see.

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