DE GAULLE: A POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY by Alexander Werth

DE GAULLE: A POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A long-term reporter of the French political scene (France, 1940-1955 (1956), The Strange History of Pierre Mendes-France, and The de Gaulle Revolution) and also of Russia at War, Alexander Werth is well qualified to trace and assess the course of de Gaulle's career. He proceeds to do so quite assiduously, with a care that keeps him in a position to probe de Gaulle's tactics; in other words, his stance is apart from the Gaullist camp, rather than outside it. Werth views de Gaulle as the eternal rebel, whose bitterest battles have been with the army (he claims the war in Algeria might well have ended long before 1962 but for the opposition within it to his leadership). He starts his book with a close-up view of de Gaulle's 1958 coup, and continues in this kind of detailed coverage of the workings of French politics whenever the subject comes into focus: De Gaulle's use of the R.P.F. in 1947-48, for example (""as near a totalitarian movement as anything France had ever seen""), de Gaulle's dealing with the Algerian situation, the 1965 election. This scrutiny and the willingness to weigh rather than to accept all that de Gaulle has done are the main characteristics of Mr. Werth's book. They are qualities which, along with the apersonal style, set it apart from Robert Aron's Explanation (of more general readership interest) (p. 92, 1966), the Mauriac encomium (p. 1221, 1965), and David Schoenbrun's more Anglo-American oriented Three Lives (p. 1183, 1965). A valid assessment.

Pub Date: July 25th, 1966
Publisher: Simon & Schuster