The Last President of Europe: Emmanuel Macron’s Race to Revive France and Save the World

A political novice leading a brand new party, in 2017 Emmanuel Macron swept away traditional political forces and emerged as president of France. Almost immediately he realized his task was not only to modernize his country but to save the EU and a crumbling international order. From the decline of NATO, to Russian interference, to the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protestors, Macron’s term unfolded against a backdrop of social conflict, clashing ambitions, and resurgent big-power rivalries.

In The Last President of Europe, William Drozdiak tells with exclusive inside access the story of Macron’s presidency and the political challenges the French leader continues to face. Macron has ridden a wild rollercoaster of success and failure: he has a unique relationship with Donald Trump, a close-up view of the decline of Angela Merkel, and is both the greatest beneficiary from, and victim of, the chaos of Brexit across the Channel. He is fighting his own populist insurrection in France at the same time as he is trying to defend a system of values that once represented the West but is now under assault from all sides. Together these challenges make Macron the most consequential French leader of modern times, and perhaps the last true champion of the European ideal.

For more than four decades, William Drozdiak has been regarded as one of the most knowledgeable American observers of European affairs. During his tenure as foreign editor of the Washington Post, the newspaper won Pulitzer Prizes for its international reporting on the Israeli—Palestinian conflict and the collapse of the Soviet communist empire.

He also served as the Post’s chief European correspondent, based at various times in Bonn, Berlin, Paris and Brussels, and covered the Middle East for Time magazine. He later became the founding executive director of the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Center in Brussels and served for ten years as president of the American Council on Germany.

Before becoming a journalist, he played professional basketball in the United States and Europe for seven years. His highly acclaimed book, Fractured Continent: Europe’s Crises and the Fate of the West, was selected by the Financial Times as one of the best political books of 2017. He is currently based in Washington D.C. as senior advisor for Europe with the international consulting firm McLarty Associates and as nonresident senior fellow with the Center for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. 

Hilary Silver is Professor of Sociology, International Affairs, and Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University . She arrived at GW in 2017 after rising through the ranks at Brown University, where she is Professor emerita of Sociology and Urban Studies. Silver served two terms as Editor of City & Community, the journal of the Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, which honored her with the Lynd Award for Career Lifetime Achievement.

Giovanna De Maio is a visiting scholar at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies and a nonresident fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. She analyzes Italian domestic and foreign policy in its relations with the European Union and great powers, along with the impact of populism and nationalism on foreign policy. Prior to joining Brookings, she held positions as transatlantic post-doctoral fellow at the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri) in Paris and at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in Washington, DC, where she focused on security aspects of West-Russia relations. De Maio holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Naples, L’Orientale, with a thesis on the repercussions of the Ukraine crisis on Russia’s domestic and foreign policy.