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In the Shadow of the General: Modern France and the Myth of De Gaulle Hardcover – May 17, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (May 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195308883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195308884
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


For the author of this fascinating investigation, which is as much about France as it is about the general, de Gaulle represents 'the highest point of the French national myth'. Contemporary Review The best book on de Gaulle. Le Magazine des Livres A wide-ranging and personal essay. This is not simply a book about de Gaulle. Rather, it seeks to show how de Gaulle evoked certain quasi-religious images concerned with salvation, liberation, fatherhood, and martyrdom. Times Literary Supplement A fascinating study of the De Gaulle myth ... his book is a model of recent French historiography in the tradition of Pierre Nora and Maurice Agulhon. He is also a political scientist, intrigued by the general's stake in his own myth-making as a means of empowerment and self-justification ... When he strays from the rich world of myth and memorialisation to consider De Gaulle the man, Hazareesingh's judgements are beautifully measured. Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books In this formidable work, Sudhir Hazareesingh explores the depths and contours of this imprint, showing its creation, its manifestations and its legacies. Ludivine Broch, European History Quarterly 44(2) A scintillating piece of work. The great interest of Sudhir Hazareesinghs remarkable book on the gaullian myth lies in the disentangling of what, in the cult of the General, has been swept up from the tides of History and what is the patient product of political craftsmanship. Le Point In this perceptive and richly-documented work, Hazareesingh analyzes the fascination of the French for the General, and shows how the gaullian myth is both malleable and multi-faceted. Le Monde In this inspiring and brilliant work, Sudhir Hazareesingh tracks the progressive emergence of Frances last great secular religion. He concludes that de Gaulle combined in his person the four great figures of political heroism: the Liberator, the prophet, the legislator, and the sage. LExpress Always contested as a statesman, Charles de Gaulle has now become the greatest political legend of contemporary France. Sudhir Hazareesingh demonstrates how the General has become the incarnation of France. Ouest-France Sudhir Hazareesingh has been working on the political uses of memory for several years. His specialization in napoleonic history makes him the ideal person to tackle the gaullian legend, and he delivers brilliantly in this book. Nonfiction This study of the representations of General de Gaulle is constructed by combining a chronological approach with a thematic structure. The very rich content of the book highlights the complexity of the gaullian figure. Etudes Sudhir Hazareesingh brings his great expertise of the mythical foundations of modern France to bear on this magnificent study of the Gaullian myth. Powerful catalyst of a movement of national reconciliation, de Gaulles legend furnished France in the second half of the twentieth century with the ideals it needed to confront modernity. La Recherche This historical essay, drawing on a rich harvest of public archives and private correspondance, enables us to understand how de Gaulle has become a national political myth, in the same iconic league as Joan of Arc, Louis XIV, and Napoleon. LAgitateur dIdees This book should be read above all because of the original light it sheds on the subject. It is undoubtedly as an admirer that Sudhir Hazareesingh paints the portrait of the last great Frenchman but an admirer who knows how to handle irony, and who sticks as closely as possible to the historical facts. Mediapart An incisive analysis. Liberation

About the Author

Sudhir Hazareesingh is Official Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Balliol College, University of Oxford.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on June 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
At the Musee de L'armee in Paris (also known as the Invalides) there is a special section devoted to Charles de Gaulle (called L'Historial Charles de Gaulle) where there is a short film presentation on the accomplishments of the General. If one had little knowledge of the events of World War II, one would come out of that audio-visual with the feeling that de Gaulle was the key figure in the long liberation of France from 1940 through 1944 - that he had single-handedly removed the German occupiers from France.

There are many allusions to this myth-making in the book of Mr. Hazareesingh. De Gaulle could be many things to diverse groups of people - he became more so after his death in 1970. Everyone in France, from extreme right to communist, made use of him. In this sense, de Gaulle's wish to be above the political fray succeeded.

The author discusses how this image changed and multiplied over time. He also examines his "War Memoires" which I found to be well written, personal and forthright. However there were many long and petty divergences (such as Lebanon and Madagascar), which in the grand scheme of all the forces interacting during World War II, had little impact on the overall outcome. Churchill spent an inordinate amount of energy trying to heal the often affronted General. To a large extent de Gaulle was in the shadow of Churchill (and Roosevelt as well) during World War II. But I have to acknowledge that de Gaulle was, sometimes, very gracious to both Churchill and Roosevelt.

The focus of this book is on France, there is not much on de Gaulle's worldly interactions, and what there is tends to be overrated. De Gaulle did not make friends easily and over time France became isolated - De Gaulle's petulance was notorious.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tony Blair on August 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having just finished Robert Caro's brilliant book on LBJ, I wanted to go a little further back in history to understand where European leaders such as Charles de Gaulle figured. The book was incredibly disappointing and disjointed and gave very little history on the man's achievements. In addition it was poorly written and the author (Sudhir Hazareesingh) seemed more intent on showing how clever he was in his depth of English lexicography! A sentence at the beginning of the book included "..........that allows us to grasp the pedagogic dimension of Gaullian wartime discourse, .....and .... the meaning of conflict. Three notions are recurrent in this Gaullian didacticism: ...."

I would not recommend this book to readers looking to understand de Gaulle's legacy.
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