MEMOIRS OF HOPE: Renewal 1958-62, Endeavour 1962- by Charles De Gaulle

MEMOIRS OF HOPE: Renewal 1958-62, Endeavour 1962-

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Uncommon is the person confident enough to speak of himself in the third person. But then Charles de Gaulle, a rare personage indeed, always traded on that imperious self-assurance braced by an ineluctable sense of his special calling as France's savior: ""I felt myself to be the chosen instrument,"" he writes of his feelings upon returning to power after twelve years of quasi-regal exile at Colombey; ""de Gaulle, with no other weapon save his legitimacy, must take destiny in his hands."" This unfinished companion to the war memoirs, intended to cover the years 1958-69 but cut short by de Gaulle's death, ends with the introduction of the economic Stabilization Plan in 1963. De Gaulle begins by describing the country's political condition prior to his return to Paris: the ""regime of the parties"" had utterly failed, hopelessly vitiated by factionalism (""How often, watching them from a distance struggling with the impossible, had I grieved over this waste!""); France's nationhood was imperiled by ""Anglo-Saxon hegemony""; and the overseas empire was in the throes of convulsive dissolution, Indo-China already lost and Algeria ""a millstone around France's neck."" The time was ripe for Gaullist leadership. . . ""I must bid for greatness."" In this personal history of the Fifth Republic, de Gaulle records how he solved these national problems: he lanced the festering Algerian riddle, he says, by adhering steadfastly to a policy of self-determination coupled with bilateral cooperation (no mention here of the early confusion surrounding bis Algerian intentions -- this is august, uncluttered history); he championed the European Common Market, making it at once the cornerstone of France's return to economic prosperity and a vehicle for his anti-Anglo-American policy; he wrote a new constitution, putting the hated ""parties"" to rout. Throughout there are pronouncements on contemporary world leaders: Macmillan, Adenauer, Khrushchev, Nixon (""one of those frank and steady personalities on whom one feels one could rely in the great affairs of State""), and John Kennedy (great potential though he suffered ""the drawbacks of a novice"" and ""the impulsiveness of the idealist""). This is de Gaulle's history of de Gaulle's second period of national leadership; professional historians and those close to power at the time will dissect it and quarrel over it, but whatever their judgments might be, Memoirs of Hope will endure, like the war memoirs, as an historical monument. Vive de Gaulle.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Simon & Schuster