From the publisher:
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? 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.