The Paris Game: Charles de Gaulle, the Liberation of Paris, and the Gamble That Won France
By Ray Argyle
Dundurn Press, Toronto
488 Pages, 28 Photos, Notes, Index – $22.49 Canada
Foreword by Maurice Vaisse
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“This biography of Charles de Gaulle examines his military and political career, and his actions and accomplishments during and after the Second World War. Engaging, well-written and well reseached, this is a book that can satisfy both the academic mind and amateur curiosity.” — Publishers Weekly
“It is tempting to say that Ray Argyle’s well researched, fascinating book reads like a novel, but that would be wrong. No novelist could invent such a protagonist.” — Literary Review of Canada
Amid the ravages of a world war, three men – a General, a President, and a Prime Minister – are locked in a rivalry that threatens their partnership and puts the world’s most celebrated city at risk of destruction before it can be liberated. This is the setting of The Paris Game, a dramatic recounting of how an obscure French General under sentence of death by his government launches on the most enormous gamble of his life: to fight on alone after his country’s capitulation to Nazi Germany. In a game of intrigue and double-dealing, Charles de Gaulle must struggle to retain the loyalty of Winston Churchill against the unforgiving opposition of Franklin Roosevelt and the traitorous manoeuvring of a collaborationist Vichy France. How he succeeds in restoring the honour of France and securing its place as a world power unfolds as a stirring and engrossing drama.
Long dismissed as a vain and arrogant self-seeker after glory, Charles de Gaulle is revealed in The Paris Game as a transformative figure of the twentieth century whose unflagging determination brings France back from defeat and saves it from the twin threats of Communism and dictatorship. After years in political exile, a revolt in Algeria threatens France with civil war, giving de Gaulle the chance to make good on his final gamble to reshape the Republic. Restored to power, he exults: “I have played my cards well. I’ve won!” As President of France, he sees the country prosper and its culture flourish anew, while he stakes out an independent path in global diplomacy, setting an example for other middle powers once the threat of the Cold War is lifted.
Working with French researchers and historians, Ray Argyle has produced an intimate and highly readable account of a turbulent time and a remarkable man. He adds new understanding to the events that shaped General de Gaulle’s impact on the world, from his stirring Appeal to the people of France on June 18, 1940, to his infamous cry of “Vive le Quebec libre” that shocked Canada in 1967. Echoes of this turbulent period are heard today as hopes for a democratic future glimmer in the former French colonies of Syria and Vietnam, while the European Union struggles to build on the de Gaulle dream of a “united Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals.”