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Books

De Gaulle

Monday 04/March/2019 - 09:55 AM
Book cover
Book cover

A Financial Times Best History Book of the Year

In the early summer of 1940، when France was overrun by German troops، one junior general who had fought in the trenches in Verdun refused to accept defeat. He fled to London، where he took to the radio to address his compatriots back home. “Whatever happens،” he said، “the flame of French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished.” At that moment، Charles de Gaulle entered history.

For the rest of the war، de Gaulle insisted he and his Free French movement were the true embodiment of France. Through sheer force of personality he inspired French men and women to risk their lives to resist the Nazi occupation. Sometimes aloof but confident in his leadership، he quarreled violently with Churchill and Roosevelt. Yet they knew they would need his help to rebuild a shattered Europe. Thanks to de Gaulle، France was recognized as one of the victorious Allies when Germany was finally defeated. Then، as President of the Fifth Republic، he brought France to the brink of a civil war over his controversial decision to pull out of Algeria. He challenged American hegemony، took France out of NATO، and twice vetoed British entry into the European Community in his pursuit of what he called “a certain idea of France.”

Julian Jackson’s magnificent biography، the first major reconsideration in over twenty years، captures this titanic figure as never before. Drawing on the extensive resources of the recently opened de Gaulle archives، Jackson reveals the conservative roots of de Gaulle’s intellectual formation، sheds new light on his relationship with Churchill، and shows how he confronted riots at home and violent independence movements from the Middle East to Vietnam. No previous biography has so vividly depicted this towering figure whose legacy remains deeply contested.

Hardcover: 928 pages
Author: Julian Jackson
Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press (August 13، 2018)
Language: English
Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 9.5 inches

About the Author
Julian Jackson is Professor of History at Queen Mary University of London and one of the foremost experts on twentieth-century France. His previous books include France: The Dark Years، 1940–1944، a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize، and his celebrated The Fall of France، which won the Wolfson History Prize.

Editorial Reviews

“Everyone should read [this] whether they can remember the events concerned or not. It is a remarkable book in which the man widely chosen as the Greatest Frenchman is dissected، intelligently and lucidly، then put together again in an extraordinary fair-minded، highly readable portrait.”―Antonia Fraser، New Statesman

“Charles de Gaulle was among the most extraordinary visionaries of the 20th century… Jackson’s new biography makes awesome reading، and is a tribute to the fascination of its subject، and to Jackson’s mastery of it… A triumph، and hugely readable.”―Max Hastings، Sunday Times

“Jackson sets out to demythologize the General without debunking him. With a fluent style and near-total command of existing and newly available sources، he peers behind the monolithic façade to unmask a composite of opposing traits…In crafting the finest one-volume life of de Gaulle in English، Julian Jackson has come closer than anyone before him to demystifying this conservative at war with the status quo، for whom national interests were inseparable from personal honor and ‘a certain idea of France.’”―Richard Norton Smith، Wall Street Journal

“Classically composed and authoritative…Jackson does a brilliant job detailing the evolution of de Gaulle from a normal French officer who has contempt for the squabbling، mediocre politicians of the Third Republic into a clear voice for republicanism…Jackson writes wonderful political history.”―Adam Gopnik، New Yorker

“De Gaulle remains France’s most important political figure since Napoleon…A judicious، authoritative، lucid، and engaging portrait…De Gaulle will likely remain the standard biography for many years to come.”―David A. Bell، The Nation

“A meticulous haul through a life of grandeur and bluff. De Gaulle is revealed to be scarcely less ‘Florentine’ than François Mitterrand…De Gaulle’s myopic vision of Europe and its ineradicable nationalisms now looks shrewdly prescient.”―Frederic Raphael، Times Literary Supplement

“Impressive. [Jackson is] always thorough but never pedantic، always clarifying but never simplifying، and he deploys an enormous amount of research with a consistently light touch and a dry wit his illustrious subject might have appreciated…Charles de Gaulle has been extremely well-served by this big and judiciously blunt new biography. The de Gaulle myth will doubtless continue to grow...but de Gaulle the man is painted perfectly in these pages.”―Steve Donoghue، Christian Science Monitor

“A masterly study of Charles de Gaulle، the most formidable man to govern his country since Napoleon، that leaves not a scintilla of doubt about his greatness.”―Sunday Times

“Shows the art of historical biography alive and well، reminding us that memories of war and fierce patriotism could also be a constructive force in the remaking of postwar Europe.”―John Bew، New Statesman

“A gripping and insightful account of the man who was at the heart of all the main events of French (and therefore European) history in the twentieth century.”―Tim Crane، Times Literary Supplement

Edited by: Yara Sameh

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