The last great Frenchman: a life of General de Gaulle

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J. Wiley & Sons, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 544 pages
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"I am France", General Charles de Gaulle announced when he formed the Free French in 1941. It was no idle boast. Following France's rapid capitulation to Nazi forces, de Gaulle alone stood for a France undefeated and still fighting. Through sheer force of will, he made himself heard, rescuing French dignity and insuring that at the end of World War II France would be among the victorious armies, her status as a world power recognized. It was an immense achievement, one that only a man of de Gaulle's raw nerve, stubbornness, arrogance, and messianic conviction could have accomplished. Though he had virtually no resources and commanded only a few thousand men, he insisted that Britain and America treat France as an equal. His relationship with Churchill was stormy in the extreme but based on a strong mutual admiration; with Roosevelt his relationship was icy. Nonetheless he achieved his goal: France took her place among the Big Five nations in the postwar world. The man who had been sentenced to death as a traitor by the Vichy government returned to France in 1944 a hero and a legend, soon to be elected president. In 1946 de Gaulle shocked the world by resigning. When he stepped back into the political arena twelve years later, it was to once again save a France in crisis. With the adroit maneuvering of a political mastermind he extricated France from Algeria and pulled the country back from the brink of civil war. He barely escaped with his life, surviving numerous assassination attempts by French-Algerians angered by his apparent betrayal. De Gaulle's second presidency lasted ten years until 1968, when student-led revolts toppled his government, but his extraordinary legacy endured inFrance's most effective constitution since the Revolution, and in international prestige that would have been unthinkable in the previous decade. Charles de Gaulle died in November 1970, a few days before his eightieth birthday. He was a product of northern French provincial society of the nineteenth century - austere, Catholic, and nationalist - truly the "last great Frenchman". In this fully rounded portrait of one of the twentieth century's most outstanding statesmen, Charles Williams interprets the facts and the motive of his subject with the insights of the distinguished politician he is himself.

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THE LAST GREAT FRENCHMAN: A Life of General de Gaulle

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Perhaps the best one-volume biography of de Gaulle, by the deputy leader of the opposition in the British House of Lords. Although this furrow has, as the author modestly acknowledges, been ``well and ... Read full review

The last great Frenchman: a life of General de Gaulle

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Williams, deputy leader of the opposition in the British House of Lords, tells the story in English of an emphatically French life, and he fully engages the reader. "Ramrod" and "Wormwood" were code ... Read full review


A Parisian Boy from Lille

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About the author (1993)

CHARLES WILLIAMS (Lord Williams of Elvel) is Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the British House of Lords. Before embarking on his political career he spent four years in Paris from 1966 to 1970, the last period of de Gaulle's government.