In this new biography, Andrew Knapp concisely dissects each of the major controversies surrounding General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French during the Second World War and President of France from 1959 to 1969.
From the beginning of de Gaulle's military career in 1909 to an analysis of legacies and myths after his death in 1970, this study examines the path by which the French came to honour him as the greatest Frenchman of all time, and as the twentieth century's pre-eminent world statesman. In each chapter, Knapp analyses de Gaulle's participation in key events such as the development of France's resistance against Nazi Germany, the decolonisation of Algeria, the birth of the French Fifth Republic, and the gigantic upheaval of May 1968. Simultaneously, this study questions de Gaulle's actions and motives throughout his life. By exploring the justification of the contemporary 'de Gaulle myth', Knapp concludes by shedding new light on the influence of de Gaulle in the political culture of twenty-first-century France.
Through careful analysis of primary sources as well as recent scholarship, this biography is an invaluable source for scholars and students of modern history, the history of France, political institutions, and international relations.
Andrew Knapp is Emeritus Professor of French Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Reading. He is author of Gaullism since de Gaulle (1994) and Parties and the Party System in France (2004), joint author of The Government and Politics of France (2006) and Forgotten Blitzes: France and Italy under Allied Air Attack (2012), and editor of The Uncertain Foundation: France at the Liberation, 1944-47 (2007).
1 De Gaulle before Gaullism, 1890-1940 2 Allies and Rivals: De Gaulle, the Free French and their Partners 3 Free France: Foundations, 1940-42 4 Towards a provisional government, 1942-44 5 Liberation and Recognition, June-October 1944 6 The Liberation Government, October 1944-January 1946 7 A Study in Failure, 1946-58 8 The Return, 1958 9 Setting an example? De Gaulle, decolonisation and the Third World 10 De Gaulle's constitution and the politics of presidential primacy 11 Superpowers and bombs 12 De Gaulle's Europe 13 May 1968: Economy, Society, and the Limits of Presidential Power 14 Departure, Death, Afterlives, 1968-2020
'Andrew Knapp's De Gaulle is written with the style and insight that we have come to expect of one the UK's foremost commentators on French history and politics of our times. At once scholarly and accessible, it sheds light on one of the most important figures of the twentieth century and explains why his legacy is still important today, in a way that will appeal to students and general readers alike'.
Paul Smith, University of Nottingham, UK
'This is unquestionably the best shorter biography of Charles de Gaulle, both for general readers of French history and students in university-level courses. Carefully organized and drawing on the latest scholarship, it devotes attention to often-neglected topics and manages to capture the sometimes elusive character of the nation's greatest twentieth-century leader'.
David Longfellow, Baylor University, USA