Christian Blanc

The Strength of Kanak Roots in New Caledonia Publication date : March 31, 2021

Christian Blanc was elected Secretary of State for the Development of the Capital Region and for crafting the legal framework for the Greater Paris Project; he was also prefect and deputy for Yvelines. He was an agent for peace in New Caledonia. He was president of the RATP, and CEO of Air France, which he saved. He also created “l’Ami public,” a think tank focusing on government reform and social modernization.

Christian Blanc was an important participant in the recent history of New Caledonia, between 1984 and the beginning of the unrest and 1988, when the crisis was settled and sanctioned by the Matignon Agreements.

The author presents here an exceptional account and a text of reference on this turbulent episode.

His narrative brings together many factual elements and unpublished accounts, notably on the discussions and negotiations the author held with the main French (Pisani, Rocard, Mitterrand in particular) and New Caledonian (notably Lafleur and the Kanak leaders Tjibaou and Yeiwene) protagonists.

The book is both a history that was lived and is told in the first person, and a text of major historical and political interest. Christian Blanc carefully explains New Caledonia, calling upon history and sociology to present in passing both the Kanak universe and that of the Caldoches – French inhabitants of New Caledonia – without sugar-coating, but with respect and lack of bias. The historical narrative is captivating, revealing laboriously constructed rapprochements that sometimes turned into tragic crises at the whim of political events and reversals.

The book is also that of a humanist. As such, the narrative is often moving in its capacity to understand and its ability to describe the people and situations. It puts them in perspective within the context of a long history, that of the difficult encounter between different cultures and interests. Yet, it retains the essence of intense, sometimes rough, often dramatic, human relationships, in which one senses the author’s respect for his interlocutors – and theirs for him -- some of whom were able to rise to the level of a situation whose stakes went beyond them and their own immediate interests.

There is spirit, optimism, and passion in this book which, though it falls within the genre of historical memoirs, is fundamentally the story of a personal adventure that reads like a novel.