Cover: De Gaulle, from Harvard University PressCover: De Gaulle in PAPERBACK

De Gaulle

Product Details


$27.00 • £23.95 • €24.95

ISBN 9780674241459

Publication Date: 10/29/2019


928 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

85 photos, 7 maps

Belknap Press

United States and its dependencies only

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Jacket: De Gaulle

HARDCOVER | $39.95

ISBN 9780674987210


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This superb biography of the former French leader brilliantly explores how he managed to dominate his country’s political life for decades… Form[s] as good an argument as one can make for believing that a single individual can alter the course of history. But Jackson, with sublime prose and a sure grasp of the politics and personalities of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Republics, never allows that argument to overshadow De Gaulle’s extremely difficult and domineering personality, and why it never entirely fit the democracy he helped rescue and then presided over.New Yorker

Jackson’s riveting biography of Charles de Gaulle…portrays a divisive, self-contradictory but still legendary figure; the book also vividly profiles twentieth-century France from the disillusionment of the First World War to the dislocations of the 1960s.Times Literary Supplement

Everyone should read [this] whether they can remember the events concerned or not. It is a remarkable book in which the man widely chosen as the Greatest Frenchman is dissected, intelligently and lucidly, then put together again in an extraordinary fair-minded, highly readable portrait. Throughout, the book tells a thrilling story.—Antonia Fraser, New Statesman

Charles de Gaulle was among the most extraordinary visionaries of the 20th century… Jackson’s new biography makes awesome reading, and is a tribute to the fascination of its subject, and to Jackson’s mastery of it… A triumph, and hugely readable.—Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Jackson sets out to demythologize the General without debunking him. With a fluent style and near-total command of existing and newly available sources, he peers behind the monolithic façade to unmask a composite of opposing traits… In crafting the finest one-volume life of de Gaulle in English, Julian Jackson has come closer than anyone before him to demystifying this conservative at war with the status quo, for whom national interests were inseparable from personal honor and ‘a certain idea of France.’—Richard Norton Smith, Wall Street Journal

Julian Jackson’s biography is a worthy monument to this extraordinary figure. He has a good eye for the telling quotation and a magnificent capacity to place de Gaulle, one of the most fascinating subjects in twentieth-century politics, in his historical and political setting. The result is a wonderful history of modern France disguised as the biography of a statesman.—Mark Mazower, New York Review of Books

Classically composed and authoritative… Jackson does a brilliant job detailing the evolution of de Gaulle from a normal French officer who has contempt for the squabbling, mediocre politicians of the Third Republic into a clear voice for republicanism… Jackson writes wonderful political history.—Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

De Gaulle remains France’s most important political figure since Napoleon… A judicious, authoritative, lucid, and engaging portrait…De Gaulle will likely remain the standard biography for many years to come.—David A. Bell, The Nation

A meticulous haul through a life of grandeur and bluff. De Gaulle is revealed to be scarcely less ‘Florentine’ than François Mitterrand… De Gaulle’s myopic vision of Europe and its ineradicable nationalisms now looks shrewdly prescient.—Frederic Raphael, Times Literary Supplement

Impressive. [Jackson is] always thorough but never pedantic, always clarifying but never simplifying, and he deploys an enormous amount of research with a consistently light touch and a dry wit his illustrious subject might have appreciated… Charles de Gaulle has been extremely well-served by this big and judiciously blunt new biography. The de Gaulle myth will doubtless continue to grow…but de Gaulle the man is painted perfectly in these pages.—Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor

No doubt the best, most comprehensive, most politically balanced and appropriately distanced [biography] of Charles de Gaulle… Jackson…seems to have written the definitive work on the subject… Deeply impressive, sympathetic to the great man but never overawed by him. It is also exhaustively researched, as beautifully proportioned as a building by Wren, and exquisitely written.Chronicles

A sweeping-yet-concise introduction to the most brilliant, infuriating, and ineffably French of men.—Ross Douthat, The New York Times

A masterly study of Charles de Gaulle, the most formidable man to govern his country since Napoleon, that leaves not a scintilla of doubt about his greatness.Sunday Times

Shows the art of historical biography alive and well, reminding us that memories of war and fierce patriotism could also be a constructive force in the remaking of postwar Europe.—John Bew, New Statesman

An unforgettable portrait of a divisive, awkward, self-contradictory but immensely impressive figure, [written] with empathy, deep scholarship and shafts of enlivening Gallic wit. Jackson’s de Gaulle epitomizes the untranslatable French concepts of gloire and grandeur; but his biography is also a riveting profile of a figure whose private life, personal sadnesses, unpredictable intellectual passions and achievements, and astounding qualities of perseverance made him truly a ‘great man’, albeit a uniquely exasperating one.—Roy Foster, chair of the judges of the Elizabeth Longford Prize

A gripping and insightful account of the man who was at the heart of all the main events of French (and therefore European) history in the twentieth century.—Tim Crane, Times Literary Supplement

[An] outstanding biography…with scholarship of the highest class… A truly great book, for after this all other biographies can be cast aside.The Telegraph

[A] tenaciously researched, nuanced, largely sympathetic biography.—Lawrence Klepp, Weekly Standard

Everything about Charles de Gaulle was outsized: his physical frame, the range of his strategic thinking, his commitment to French prestige, his personal austerity. He saved his country twice: in 1940–1944, by maintaining a French presence in the fight against Hitler; and after 1958 by ending a fruitless war in Algeria and by giving France an effective governing structure. Julian Jackson brings commensurate qualities to this admiring but clear-sighted biography: unrestricted access to the archives, commanding knowledge of the period, and an eye for revelatory detail. Here at last is the biography this titanic figure deserves.—Robert O. Paxton, author of Vichy France

Fully 60 years after de Gaulle emerged from retirement to found the Fifth Republic, and nearly half a century after he quit the presidency following defeat in a referendum, he remains a towering figure in the French imagination, as Julian Jackson, a British historian, chronicles in his compelling and painstakingly documented biography.The Economist

A gripping and enlightening reflection on political power and its mysteries… Jackson accomplishes far more than merely compiling a chronology. The book also paints a compelling portrait of its subject’s inner life and its most salient aspect—his natural affinity for power.—Bruno Maçães, Foreign Policy

[A] tremendous life of de Gaulle… Jackson is the author of a memorable sequence of histories of 1930s and 1940s France, but this is the peak, lucid and witty from first to last, charitable where possible, merciless where necessary, carefully quarried down to the last cobblestone of Paris and Algiers.—Ferdinand Mount, London Review of Books

Jackson has brought de Gaulle to life for English speakers, while revealing the many ways the great Frenchman remains relevant to us today… [A] splendid biography.—Walter M. Hudson, American Interest

A far more sophisticated accounting of the man, showing empathy for a leader who believed fervently in his own moment in time, a man who was emblematic of France’s fatalistic view of itself… For anyone interested in the man or that era, this is an indispensable read… By the end, we have been given an invaluable sense of de Gaulle and his times.—Thomas Filbin, Arts Fuse

In this ambitious and magisterial account, leading historian Julian Jackson explores both the history and the myth… Jackson masters both the public arc of de Gaulle’s career, and the detail of his private life and daily routines. He writes elegantly, with punch, insight, and authority.—Robert Gildea, BBC History

Jackson makes it so clear how tied to the history and soul of his country Charles De Gaulle was, and the triumph of this biography is in so expertly showing how that relationship operated throughout De Gaulle’s life. For someone wanting to know something about the character and ideals of France, you can find them eloquently and expertly expressed by this wonderful retelling of the life of Charles De Gaulle.Books and (Re)views

[A] superb and equitable portrait… Jackson writes with verve… He allows de Gaulle’s greatness to speak for itself and treats the general’s writings and military, political, and philosophical reflections with the seriousness that they deserve. His judgments on de Gaulle’s thought and action are almost always illuminating and always measured. Jackson’s is likely to be the authoritative biography of de Gaulle.—Daniel J. Mahoney, City Journal

Jackson’s remarkable new biography of Charles de Gaulle is a gripping read, even for those familiar with the dramatic histories in which he played a leading role. It works so well because Jackson weaves into the history of events de Gaulle’s character… Jackson systematically confronts myth with historical research, without forgetting that de Gaulle’s myth was an essential ingredient of French history.—Kevin Passmore, Journal of Modern History

Beautifully written and comprehensive, it includes very interesting discussions of De Gaulle’s attitude toward French Jews in decades when the French army and French right were deeply anti-Semitic, and toward Israel when he was France’s president.—Elliott Abrams, Mosaic

It leaves previous works entirely in the shade, largely because of its impeccable research and a rare objectivity and empathy… [A] masterpiece.—Antony Beevor, The Spectator

A truly remarkable treatment of the life of one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century, and a master class in how to write a political biography… This magnificent biography of a man whose foreign policy views have all-too-often been crudely simplified or mischaracterized provides a good point of departure for such efforts toward a shrewder and more empathetic mode of alliance management.—Iskander Rehman, War on the Rocks

Jackson writes clearly…of de Gaulle’s maneuvering to play both sides against the middle in such instances as the near civil war that broke out in France over the anti-colonial war in Algeria…and of de Gaulle’s elaborate efforts to calve the European powers away from American influence and into the French sphere… [An] excellent, highly useful addition to the library of modern European history as well as the political history of World War II and the Cold War.Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

As close to a definitive biography of Charles de Gaulle, one of the 20th century’s most protean figures, as may be possible… Jackson’s wide-ranging scholarship will dazzle academics, and his smooth synergy of narrative and analysis will engage general readers.Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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