Magazine article Contemporary Review

In the Shadow of the General: Modern France and the Myth of De Gaulle

Magazine article Contemporary Review

In the Shadow of the General: Modern France and the Myth of De Gaulle

Article excerpt

In the Shadow of the General: Modern France and the Myth of de Gaulle. Sudhir Hazareesingh. Oxford University Press. [pounds sterling].18.99. xiv + 238 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-530888-4. This study looks not so much at the man but at the legend. It is an investigation into myth-making, the sort of thing usually reserved in France for Napoleon I or elsewhere for assassinated politicians such as Lincoln. (Indeed the nearest parallel to de Gaulle is Lincoln--the man who 'saved' the nation. Surprisingly for a book published in the U.S. the parallel is not developed.) Through de Gaulle, Frenchmen can trick themselves into believing that the 'true' France fought on after 1940 and that Vichy was an aberration. The General believed himself to be a great man and France believes she is an equally great nation. It is over 40 years since de Gaulle left the political stage in apparent defeat but this defeat, superseded by his death a year later, has left the way open for his elevation to Olympus. …

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