The General: : Charles De Gaulle and the France He Saved
Jonathan Fenby

The General: : Charles De Gaulle and the France He Saved

No leader of modern times was more unique and more uniquely national than Charles de Gaulle. As founder and first President of the Fifth Republic, General de Gaulle saw himself 'carrying France on my shoulders'. When he first emerged on to the world stage in 1940, his insistence that he spoke for his nation might well have appeared impossibly arrogant for a recently promoted junior general who had never been elected to anything. But he personified many of the traits of his country which fascinate the rest of the world - its pride in itself, its intransigence, its historical and cultural heritage and its quasi-religious belief in the state. Le General, as he became known from 1940 on, appeared as if carved from a single monumental block, but was, in fact, extremely complex, a man with deep personal feelings and recurrent mood swings, devoted to his family and often seeking reassurance from those around him. Though insisting on discipline and loyalty from others, he was a great rebel. A grand visionary with a vast geo-political grasp and elephantine memory, he was also a supreme tactician with a taste for secrecy and the ability to out-flank opponents. This is a magisterial, sweeping biography of one of the great leaders of the twentieth century and of the country with which he so identified himself. Written with terrific verve and narrative skill, and yet rigorous and detailed, it brings alive as never before the private man as well as the public leader through exhaustive research and astute analysis.

Book Details:

  • Author: Jonathan Fenby
  • Published Year: 2010
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Simon & Schuster
    • US: Skyhorse
Jonathan Fenby

Jonathan Fenby

Jonathan Fenby has published twenty books, mainly on modern global history, China and France. In a journalistic career spanning four decades, he was Editor of The Observer, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong (during the handover from Britain to China) and Reuters World Service. He also held senior editorial posts at The Economist, The Independent and The Guardian and has been a foreign correspondent in Vietnam, Germany and France where he spent twelve years working for Reuters, The Economist and The Times. After returning to the UK from Hong Kong in 2000, he was a founding partner of...
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Book Reviews

  • "Dare I call a 707-page biography a page turner? For once, the fake enthusiasm of blurb prose rings true. I did “finish the book in one sitting,” as another chestnut has it, though the sitting was a very long flight of 16 hours. And why? Because Jonathan Fenby, a former editor of The Observer of London and a prolific author, knows how to turn breadth and depth into enthrallment. ­Academic historians tend to shy away from the grand sweep, while journalists like to stick to the chatty and topical. Fenby has blended the best of both crafts — the historian’s gravitas, the journalist’s feel for drama — into a magnificent book. “Fenby actually gives us two books, masterfully intertwined, for the price of one. “The General” isn’t just the story of a 20th-century giant who captivated the public’s imagination even while he was still alive. It also traces the course of a great nation that refused to come to terms with the loss of the strategic pre-eminence it had once enjoyed. This is history with an almost literary flavor. Think of Booth Tarkington’s “Magnificent Ambersons,” which charts the waning fortunes of an aristocratic family in 19th-century America, and more particularly think of the movie that was made of it. Fenby hasn’t written a novel, but one can imagine how Orson Welles might have turned “The General” into a movie classic. Hollywood, take note."
    New York Times
  • "Pacy and readable…such a great tale has not been better told in English before."
    Julian Jackson, The Guardian
  • "Impressive account ….finely nuanced and highly readable."
  • "Astute and psychologically probing."
    Kirkus Review
  • "Skilful and subtle ... brilliant."
    Douglas Hurd, Daily Telegraph
  • " Most readable and sensible judgments."
    Max Hastings, Sunday Times
  • "Monumental ... most enjoyable."
    Financial Times.
  • "Magisterial."
  • "Beautifully written."
    New Statesman
  • "Fenby is superlatively good at turning a mass of facts into a clear, well-paced narrative that will be immediately accessible to readers."
    Times Higher Education.
  • "The best English-language biography of de Gaulle…Fenby tells his remarkable story quite admirably in a fast-moving narrative that is nevertheless detailed and always fair to both De Gaulle and to this enemies."
    The Scotsman.
  • "Highly readable."
    Catholic Herald.
  • "A fine journalist, Fenby pulls together very capably the threads of wartime with an eye for telling detail and anecdote. De Gaulle has been written about many times before, but those with time in their lives for only one book about the general could happily make it this one."
  • "Fenby writes movingly...gripping...It's certainly the best biography of de Gaulle to have been written in English."
    Times Literary Supplement.
  • "Full, clear, French-sourced and excellent."
  • "De Gaulle always maintained that a non-French biographer could never hope to fully understand him. This superb book has finally proved him wrong."
    Sunday Business Post
  • "The best English biography of de Gaulle."
    The Oldie