The Long March of the French Left

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The Long March of the French Left

By R.W. Johnson
St. Martin's, 1981
345 pp. $22.50
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An English don analyzes with wit and acumen the vagaries of the French Left, from Liberation to the defeat of 1978 and the beginnings of a campaign that finally brought the Left to a new phase in the long march. This spirited book, appearing with uncanny timeliness, considers "the decline of Gaullism as a mass force . . . the central political process in the France of the 1970s," but implicitly concludes that after the defeat of 1978, a Left victory seemed unlikely, despite the many factors favoring it. Unlike many a wooden specialist of our day, Johnson grasps and delights in the full panoply of politics: the social, indeed the religious context, the role of leadership and human foibles, the ideological component, and electoral behavior.

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