Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos

Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos

Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos

Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos


This is the first book length attempt to both provide a political and historical synthesis of the quarter century (1958-81) the Gaullists were in power in France and put the Fifth Republic they created into a broader comparative perspective. The author offers a detailed analysis of the reasons for the success of the Gaullists in bringing France its first successful democratic government and he demonstrates that the difficulties the Gaullists and their Socialist successors have faced may be symptomatic of the kinds of problems the entire advanced industrialized world will encounter as we move into the next century.


The book you are about to read has been a long time coming. I began it during my first sabbatical and finished it shortly after the second one ended.

Though this book has taken entirely too long to complete, for once an academic's procrastination may prove to be a blessing. During the 1980s, my interests expanded and, with them, what started as a book about France has turned into one that uses the French experience as a springboard to address the role of the modern state, something we will all be confronting as academics and as citizens for the rest of this century and beyond.

In taking seven years to write a book, one accumulates a lot of debts. Mine fall into four categories.

First are the friends and colleagues in comparative politics. Many, including Roy Pierce, Rand Smith, Roland Cayrol, William Schonfeld, Roger Bowen, George Ross, Jane Jenson, David Rayside, Rita Moore, David Cameron, Ken Rodman, and Steve Crawford, each read (or heard) parts of the argument and gave me invaluable advice.

Second, I owe a larger, if more indirect, debt to my colleagues in the Beyond War movement. Ever since graduate school, I have been living a kind of double life, working as citizen and scholar on questions of war and peace in the nuclear age as well as French politics. Since 1984, those efforts have revolved around my involvement in Beyond War, a grass- roots educational movement dedicated to helping people see that we need a fundamental shift in the way we think and act if we are to overcome all the problems of the nuclear age. in particular, I would like to thank Beyond War for allowing me to spend my last sabbatical on its . . .

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