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

De Gaulle

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Product Details


$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674987210

Publication Date: 08/13/2018


928 pages

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

85 photos, 7 maps

Belknap Press

United States and its dependencies only

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, The 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, The Wall Street Journal

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, The 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, The 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, The 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.The 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, The 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, The 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

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 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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