First: I have never read the "Merde" books, so I am not a Stephen Clarke-can-do-no-wrong-zombie. I have no idea what his other books are like. Second, I also am an Anglophone who lives in France (outside Paris), so lots of his comments are funny *to*me* because his insights about the French are so spot-on, and you'd have to live here to get some of his insider's ribbing.
This is an admirable pop history survey which reviews the relationship between England (and the U.K.) and France: the love-hate and all out wars, the underlying admiration each has for each, and the colorful characters (like Clarke) who have drifted back and forth across the Channel.
This is a very funny book, but also wonderfully historical, and the partisanship (for the English) is kept at a level that would even pass for banter and fun conversation at Elyse Palace.
Clarke has an engaging writing style which is easy to read and doesn't get bogged down, but adds good detail and has wonderful pacing. I often test books for good prose by reading aloud, and Clarke passes the test.
I have to admit I preferred the earlier history sections concerning the Viking William the Conqueror, Joan of Arc, and the details on the thirty and hundred years wars, and Henry Ists diddling of English maids, the latter history is both too near and too painful to have the same light tone that he sustains for most of the topics here. Charles de Gaulle comes off (somewhat deservedly) badly, and Clemenceau's insistence like a stubborn Vendee peasant that every sou of WWI be paid for by Germany is (though accurate) told a bit one-dimensionally.
Another flaw is the book is aimed for a specific U.K. readership, and so Clarke's tone and prose often is like he is writing just for a Britisher. He appears to have forgotten about the anglophones in colonies and Commonwealth readers, or the rebel Americans (who put on more Gilbert and Sullivan each year than the U.K. produces in decades). There are odd typos, copy editing was apparently farmed out to high school seniors.
Still, Clarke's whimsical take on all things disastrous about the French and their interactions with the English and the "Anglo-Saxons" is so informative and well-executed that the flaws are easily forgiven.