This book is largely an explication of francophone influences throughout the world, with special emphasis on Canada. That French is no longer the property of the French (sensu strictiori) is obvious. The authors have rendered a distinct service by telling readers in detail about the multifarious offspring of French language and culture. They discuss the origins of academic French from various antecedents on the territory that is now France. Other languages have risen in similar ways, then acquired separate lives. To some extent that is true of Joual in Quebec, more so of Cajun. The fact that speakers of the derivatives have learned to master academic French in school and may use it in excellent ways as their language of correspondence or in cultivated conversation and academic studies does not make it their mother tongue. One may point out that analogous considerations apply to relatioships between Alemannic Swiss German and High German, Danish and Norwegian, Dutch and Low German dialects: they are separate languages.
The authors have, however, rendered good service by their survey of "francophonie" throughout the world and by detailing its spread and importance, sociologically,economically, and in other ways. They have pointed out and attempted to clear up misconceptions about the distribution and political impacts of the French in North America, and have illuminated differences between past and present. Perhaps more emphasis should have been placed on the role of francophone universities and their graduates since the second world war. The weakest parts of the book are those dealing with French philology in its linguistic and its literary aspects. Evidently (see their bibliogrphy) the authors have not paid attention to rigorous reference works, e.g., M. K. Pope's "From Latin to Modern French with Especial Consideration of Anglo-Norman", or to others. Their treatment of the Germanic elements is too sketchy. Their consideration of Provençal is insufficient, even for a book addressed to general readers. Also, if one refers to the role of Latin in French and English, distinctions have to be made between classical Latin, Latin of northern Gaul, medieval Latin.
A more specific comment: "Ave maris stella" means "Hail, star of the sea", not "Hail star of Mary" (p. 217).