DE GAULLE by Jean Lacouture


Email this review


Jean Lacouture's De Gaulle has best sold in France; he has been known here to date for his Vietnam: Between Two Truces, a fact that may channel a readership for this new import. Of the previously reviewed books on Charles of France, it is closest in style to Robert Aron's Explanation (p. 92)--it is lucid, incisive, and quotable; in spirit it is closest to Alexander Werth's De Gaulle: A Political Biography (p. 467)--it remains detached from the Gaullist camp. Essentially it is a classic study in character; Lacouture's contribution lies in his carefully evolved case for the forces which forged Le Grand Charles. He covers much the same ground as his predecessors, from the childhood years under a father who called himself ""a monarchist, beyond the time"" and a Roman matron of a mother, through the years of influences (here he gives new insights)--of Rostand, Bergson, Barres, Peguy, then St. Cyr and Petain. He traces the development of De Gaulle's character and stance in war and at the War College; sees the Edge of the Sword and The Army of the Future as unveiling the character which it took the events of 1940 and the war years to harden as a diamond ""of the first water."" This concern persists through the accession of power, its relinquishment; the return; he appears as ""both an ideologist of imposing continuity of thought and steadiness of purpose and a practitioner of depressing opportunism and cynicism."" The most concise and reasoned of the books on De Gaulle, this may be the most read as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1966
Publisher: New American Library