DE GAULLE: King Without a Crown by John Lester

DE GAULLE: King Without a Crown

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Flamboyance suits De Gaulle and attracts readers, so you'll likely want this dramatic, often revealing biography even though it lapses, after his 1958 return to power, into a rather crude condemnation of his autocratic rule. Here is the boy who knew his own strengths, who early discovered his later validation: ""When an army is overrun by a surprise attack, no one questions the rank of the man who raises the flag again and utters the first call to resistance,"" Miserable as an ordinary soldier, smug at Saint-Cyr, he chose to return as an officer to the regiment where he had been humiliated, partly also to attract the attention of the colonel, Petain, whose commitment to artillery accorded with his. Throughout the years of his obscurity his purpose was unswerving--he would prove the need for mechanization and mobility, the futility of hiding behind a Maginot Line--so that when France falls and he escapes to England (an exciting episode), the reader feels, as De Gaulle did, that his destiny is being fulfilled. There's considerable detail about the upstart jockeying for his and France's position with Churchill and Roosevelt, less about his relationship with the Resistance, still less that can be called balanced political history after the war. Sometimes despite Mr. Lester, you have to admire the man, and young people will find him fascinating.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1968
Publisher: Hawthorn