Thursday, February 06, 2020

Book Report: "de Gaulle"

de Gaullede Gaulle by Julian T. Jackson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Author Julian T. Jackson loses the forest for the trees, spending far too much time obsessing over the mundane details of the minutiae of de Gaulle's movements, speeches and reactions to news of the day.

Charles de Gaulle lived a grand, exciting life, but it seemed droning and dull according to much of this book. It's an exhaustive and exhausting textbook rather than a film-ready biography.

Jackson's writing comes alive when he frees himself from what he deems to be the necessary play-by-play to step out and make grand-scale commentary on de Gaulle's vision and motivations.

A complicated leader who wore the burden of a nation's pride on his sleeve, de Gaulle served as the nation's defiant conscience in exile during the Nazi occupation, and took complex and hotly debated stances over controversial issues such as the beginnings of the Vietnam War, the establishment of Israel and the question of whether or not to grant independence to the people of Algeria.

De Gaulle thrived on his stature as a revered statesman who had a knack of predicting future geopolitical climates, but Jackson convincingly argues that his genius lied in his ability to adapt and alter his perspectives given the political needs of the time. De Gaulle managed to keep his leadership style relevant as time and tide shifted.

James Adams narrates the Audible version with admirable passion, pushing through the slower portions with a forceful urgency, while generating enthusiasm and vigor during the more interesting big-picture moments.

Only in the final pages does Jackson's fill-figured opinion of the majestic leader morph to its fullest life. The book ends with the sort of momentous eloquence that I hoped for and didn't receive through 90 percent of what came before.

If only it were true in this case that all's well that ends well.

Publisher provided review copy.

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