More has been written about Charles de Gaulle than any other politician of the past half century. His story appeals especially to those who believe that a "great man" armed with a grand vision and traditional wisdom about statecraft can still make a mark in a chaotic world. No doubt, de Gaulle's policies revitalized France, domestically and internationally. In the 1960s, his assertion of an independent French nuclear capability, call for a new bargain with NATO, expansive notion of national sovereignty, support for the gold standard, pursuit of dirigiste economic planning, and sympathy for nonalignment triggered panic in other Western capitals but made France a prominent global player. In retrospect, however, de Gaulle's greatest foreign policy achievements were unrelated to the concerns of his contemporary critics: a more supranational European Union, the definitive end of French colonialism, France's strengthened international economic status, and a stiffer Western resolve in Berlin. This book presents some of the best work from a new generation of historians seeking to understand the tensions between rhetoric and reality in this enigmatic statesman.
Get the latest book reviews delivered to your inbox.