In This Review

De Gaulle: Statesmanship, Grandeur, and Modern Democracy
De Gaulle: Statesmanship, Grandeur, and Modern Democracy
By Daniel J. Mahoney
Praeger, 1996, 188 pp

After having written a fine book about Raymond Aron as a political scientist and edited some of Aron's best essays, Mahoney has turned to the statesman who provoked in Aron an inseparable mixture of admiration and exasperation: Charles de Gaulle. In a short volume, Mahoney covers the essentials. He examines both de Gaulle's political philosophy and the meaning of his most important actions and policies. He finds in the general's political persona "a curious synthesis of Aristotelian magnanimity and Machiavellian virtue. But it also included a Christian care for one's fellows." On the crucial distinction between legality and legitimacy, on the constant tensions between the need for heroic leadership and the imperatives of modern democracy as well as between the call of national grandeur and the humdrum concerns and multiple divisions of contemporary society, on de Gaulle's attempt to reconcile the primacy of the nation with his vision of a confederal Europe, Mahoney is both perceptive and eloquent. His emphasis on the Catholic dimension of de Gaulle, on the influence of Charles P‚guy (rather than Nietzsche), and his remarks on the similarities between de Gaulle's thought and the ideas of de Tocqueville and Weber are particularly welcome.