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

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9780195308884: In the Shadow of the General: Modern France and the Myth of De Gaulle
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Charles De Gaulle's leadership of the French while in exile during World War II cemented his place in history. In contemporary France, he is the stuff of legend, consistently acclaimed as the nation's pre-eminent historical figure. But paradoxes abound. For one thing, his personal popularity sits oddly with his social origins and professional background. Neither the Army nor the Catholic Church is particularly well-regarded in France today, as they are seen to represent antiquated traditions and values. So why, then, do the French nonetheless identify with, celebrate, and even revere this austere and devout Catholic, who remained closely wedded to military values throughout his life? In The Shadow of the General resolves this mystery and explains how de Gaulle has come to occupy such a privileged position in the French imagination. Sudhir Hazareesingh's story of how an individual life was transformed into national myth also tells a great deal about the French collective self in the twenty-first century: its fractured memory, its aspirations to greatness, and its manifold anxieties. Indeed, alongside the tale of de Gaulle's legacy, the author unfolds a much broader narrative: the story of modern France.

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About the Author:


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

Review:

Hazareesingh has given us an indispensable book about an essential dimension of contemporary French political culture. * Andrew Knapp, H-France Review * An incisive analysis. * Liberation * 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 * 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 * 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 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 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 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 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 * 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 * The best book on de Gaulle. * Le Magazine des Livres * 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 * Hazareesinghs splendid book ... tells us much about the personality and ideology of de Gaulle, about modern France and its political culture, nd about the creation of great men in history. * Robert Aldrich, Australian Journal of Politics and History *

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