Perhaps no life history of Charles de Gaulle will ever truly measure the man. After all, if le style, c'est l'homme, the...

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DE GAULLE

Perhaps no life history of Charles de Gaulle will ever truly measure the man. After all, if le style, c'est l'homme, the work would require the subtle hand and sensibility given only the greatest biographers; and if, as his supporters believed and de Gaulle assumed, l'etat, c'est moi, only the epic grandeur of French history itself would suffice as a summation of the man. Brian Crozier, certainly, has not written that biography. Rather, this is a serviceable and sometimes contentious recounting ""from cradle to grave,"" the first to cover de Gaulle's life fully (originally published in Great Britain in two volumes, ""The Warrior"" and ""The Statesman""). At the outset Crozier (who has a number of books to his credit, including the relatively sympathetic Franco) makes his biases clear, confessing a ""love-hate relationship"" with the French; ""My attitude towards General de Gaulle is, perhaps, similarly ambivalent."" Crozier continues to admire ""the man of 1940"" but has come to deplore the ""later aberrations"" (the abomination of the British, the ""weakening"" of the Atlantic alliance by withdrawing France from NATO, the intention to dominate the EEC by keeping the Anglo-Saxons out, the abortive overtures to the Russians). Crozier must respect the ""personality, the will and the skill, the erudition and the self-discipline. . . . But the harm he did the West, and therefore France, outlives him."" Paradoxically, in the end, says Crozier, ""none of his objectives was achieved"" and Gaullism is a ""myth"" -- thus exactly what harm de Gaulle perpetrated on the West and his own nation is not dear. Possibly this is a case of ambivalence run amok. Or is Crozier merely indulging in a fashionable stance of plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose?

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973