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Julie Barlow

Julie Barlow

Author of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

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Julie Barlow is the co-author, with her husband Jean-Benoît Nadeau, of the international bestseller Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, which has sold some 200,000 copies in five languages. The book—which explains how the French think and organize themselves, from their penchant for centralization to their love of street protests and five-course meals—is popular among Francophiles in North America, Europe and Asia.


The couple’s follow-up book, The Story of French, won the 2007 Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction from the Quebec Writers’ Federation, as well as the 2011 Prix de la Renaissance Française from the Académie des Sciences d’Outre-Mer in Paris. The New York Times praised The Story of French as “a highly accessible history of the French language” and the book was hailed as “a mind-altering experience” by The Montreal Gazette.


Barlow began learning French when she was 20. After graduating from McGill University with an Honors B.A. in Political Science, and Concordia University with an M.A. in English Literature, she began writing for national magazines in Canada. In 1996 she became a regular contributor to Quebec’s main public affairs magazine, L’actualité and one of the few journalists in Canada who publish in both English and French. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the U.S. and Europe including The New York Times, USA Today the International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor and Courier international. She has been nominated for three National Magazine Awards and a Grand Prix du Magazine du Québec for her work in L’actualité, won 3 Grants for Professional Writers from the Canada Council for the Arts and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2010.


Julie lived in France from 1999-2001. She has travelled widely in North America, Europe, Africa the Middle East, Central Asia and New Zealand. She has published four books in English and French in the U.S., Canada, the UK and France.


Trilingual in English, French and Spanish, Barlow lives in Montreal with her spouse and writing partner, Jean-Benoît Nadeau and their twin daughters. Barlow speaks widely on France and the French language for universities and associations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and has given keynote speeches for organizations like the American Association of Teachers of French. She gives seminars and teaches workshops on Nonfiction Writing.


Barlow’s new book, The Story of Spanish (St. Martin’s Press, April 2013), is a popular history of the Spanish language. It explains how Spanish started out as an obscure tongue spoken by a remote tribe of cattle farmers in northern Spain, then conquered Spain and crossed continents to become the world’s third most spoken language. Former editor of TIME magazine’s European edition Donald Morrison calls The Story of Spanish “a charming biography of the world’s least appreciated major language.” She is presently working on new books about French and Arabic.

Visit Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau’s official website to learn more
Read a profile of Barlow and Nadeau in The New York Times
Read The New York Times review of The Story of French
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St. Martin's Griffin

The Story of Spanish shows there is much more to Spanish than tacos, flamenco, and bullfighting. It explains how the United States developed its Hispanic personality from the time of the Spanish conquistadors to Latin American immigration and telenovelas. It also makes clear how fundamentally Spanish many American cultural artifacts and customs actually are, including the dollar sign, barbecues, ranching, and cowboy culture.
Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Griffin

The Story of French challenges long held assumptions about French and shows why it is still the world’s other global language.


I say Spanish, You say Spanglish: The United States’ growing Hispanic community is producing something totally unexpected: a new variety of Spanish. It’s not Spanglish—it’s American Spanish. In 2014, the first words of American Spanish will enter the dictionary of Spain’s Royal Academy.

A Look at Spanish Though Names: The name España originally meant “land of the rabbits” in Phoenician. Its modern form actually came from French. A look at the different names for Spanish speakers—from Hispanic, Hispano, Latino and Chicano, to Spaniard, Castilian, Spanish and hispanounidense—reveals the fascinating influences that forged the Spanish language through its history.

The United States’ Spanish Roots: Discussions about Hispanics in the U.S. inevitably turn to immigration. Yet few understand how deeply the influence of Hispanic culture runs in the United States. Many fundamental features of Americana, from the dollar sign and barbecues, to cowboy culture and mustangs, are of Spanish origin.

French on the Rise: News of the death of French has been greatly exaggerated. In the last decade alone, the world got 20 million more French speakers. Though many see French as a language in decline, in fact, it is growing and spreading—notably in Africa. Though it only ranks ninth in number of speakers, French is still the world’s second international language.

The Other Side of the French Language: Mention of “French” brings to mind highbrow culture and language police. But the French language has another life as a popular tongue. In the 33 countries where it is an official language, French is evolving and adapting to new realities—from the suburbs of Paris to the backwoods of Louisiana, to classrooms in Quebec and libraries in Africa.

What makes the French so French: With their fascination with grandeur and lofty ideas, their fondness for fine food, their hedonism, and supposed arrogance, the French fascinate as much as they mystify. Yet the French have created a society that uniquely suited to the values France has forged over its long history.

The Riddles of France: Whether is the Islamic veil, labor riots or globalization, France adapts to political, cultural and economic challenges its own way, maintaining its unique personality and values in the process. In many ways America’s “alter ego”, France really does represent something “else.”

The Riddles of France: Whether is the Islamic veil, labor riots or globalization, France adapts to political, cultural and economic challenges its own way, maintaining its unique personality and values in the process. In many ways America’s “alter ego”, France really does represent something “else.”

How Major Languages Go Global: Believe it or not, French, Spanish, Arabic and even English all started out as obscure tongues spoken in remote places. Why do some languages spread and turn into global tongues? Politics, economics and even geography explain why languages grow and go global.

What’s the Best Language to Learn?: English? Spanish? Mandarin? French? It’s not just a question of numbers, or countries where they are spoken. The “best” language to learn depends on what you want to do with it. And some languages have surprising hidden qualities . . .

The Pitch of Your Life: Writing Non-fiction Book Proposals A step-by-step process to writing a book proposal that literary agents and publishers will jump on.

Everything Writers Need to Know about Marketing: From pitching stories, to negotiating fees, how to get published in books, magazines and newspapers—and get paid for it.



Praise for The Story of Spanish
“A rich history of the language [...] Nadeau and Barlow do an excellent job of transforming it into an accessible and lively narrative.”
—The Los Angeles Times

“You don't have to know any Spanish to enjoy this charming biography of what is perhaps the world's least appreciated major language. But you will come to understand its rich history and poetic beauty -- and why our children and their children will, in ever greater numbers, be dreaming in Spanish."
—Donald Morrison former Editor of TIME Magazine's European edition and author of The Death of French Culture

“An engaging mix of travel, personal anecdotes and extensive research.”

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