In contemporary France, Charles de Gaulle has become a figure of legend, consistently acclaimed as the nation's pre-eminent "historical" figure. But paradoxes abound. For one, his personal popularity sits oddly with his social origins and professional background. Neither the nobility, nor the
Catholic Church, nor the Army 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 nobleman, 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.
Prelude: April 20th 2009, In the Courtyard of the Invalides
1. De Gaulle, a French Passion
2. Hail to the Liberator
3. Sentiment and Reason
4. The Spirit of the 18th of June
5. Father of the Nation
6. Pilgrimages to Colombey
7. The Consecration of an icon
Conclusion: The Last Great Frenchman
Sources and Bibliography
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Sudhir Hazareesingh is Fellow of Politics at Balliol College, Oxford University, and Fellow of the British Academy.