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Charles de Gaulle

A Thorn in the Side of Six American Presidents
In this definitive history, William R. Keylor traces the tumultuous relationship between Charles de Gaulle and a host of other key twentieth-century figures: his former mentor Marshal Philippe Petain, who headed the collaborationist government in the southern French city of Vichy as the German army occupied the northern two-thirds of the country; Sir Winston Churchill, the British prime minister whose government supported and financed de Gaulle and the Free French, but who clashed with the French leader on a number of hot-button issues; and, most critically, the six American presidents from FDR to Nixon. Keylor uses the metaphor "thorn in the side" to emphasize the fact that challenges from the intrepid French leader were often an annoyance to the Americans, who all had many more important issues to deal with--World War II for Roosevelt and Truman, the Cold War for Eisenhower, and the Vietnam War for Kennedy and Johnson. Richard Nixon alone had an excellent relationship, but the two men overlapped for only four months before de Gaulle's retirement. Thoroughly researched and deeply knowledgeable, this gripping book will appeal to all readers interested in contemporary French and US history.
William R. Keylor is professor of history and international relations and director of the International History Institute at Boston University. He has received the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Methodist Scholar-Teacher Award at Boston University and has been a Guggenheim, Fulbright, Woodrow Wilson, Whiting, and Earhart Fellow. He is an elected member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a former president of the Society for French Historical Studies, was named Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merite by the French government, and is a member of the Editorial Board of the H-NET discussion group H-Diplo.
From World War II through the upheavals of Vietnam, Charles de Gaulle infuriated and antagonized American presidents. Yet his worldview reflected his profound patriotism and his belief that France had a destiny to shape world affairs. William Keylor's empathy for France, his mastery of the vast source material, and his skill as one of our leading diplomatic historians make this insightful study of Franco-American relations during de Gaulle's long career a delightful and essential book.--William I. Hitchcock, University of Virginia General Charles de Gaulle, the prickly leader of the Free French during World War II and later president of the Fifth French Republic, crossed swords with five successive presidents of the United States, establishing real rapport only with the sixth--Richard Nixon. William Keylor gives us a lively, thoughtful, and deeply researched account of these relationships.--Robert Paxton, Columbia University In this elegantly written and extensively researched book, Keylor provides an excellent account of how six US presidents--from FDR and his stubborn refusal to recognize the leader of Free France to Richard Nixon and his embrace of the founder of the Fifth Republic--dealt with the de Gaulle challenge. At a time when the United States and Europe seem bound to drift further apart--as de Gaulle believed was inevitable--this is a must-read.--Frederic Bozo, Sorbonne (University of Paris III)
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