Tuesday 21st May 2019

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review… An Account Of De Gaulle Equal To The Man Himself

October 9, 2018 Featured Today No Comments


Jackson, Julian. De Gaulle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018; 887 pages.

Julian Jackson ends part one of this hefty volume with a quotation: “Without the Peloponnesian War, Demosthenes would have been an obscure politician, without the Norman Invasion, Joan of Arc would have died peacefully at Domrémy, without the Revolution, Carnot and Napoleon would have finished their existence in low rank, without the present war, General Petain would have finished his career as the head of a brigade.”
The words are taken from a lecture by Charles de Gaulle. Then Jackson adds his own thought: “Without the fall of France, de Gaulle would have become a leading general of the French Army, probably a minister of defense, perhaps even head of government, but he would not have become de Gaulle.”
Jackson then takes 700 pages to prove it.
Before examining the political and military issues confronting de Gaulle as the exiled leader of the Free French, we may look to the habits and character of the man himself.
Charles de Gaulle married Yvonne Vendroux, April 7, 1921. Both had inherited small sums from their deceased parents which enabled them to consider the purchase of a home.
After searching for two years they found a property at La Borisserie, Colombey-les-deux-Églises in the Champagne region. Its price was 45,000 French francs, about the equivalent of a lieutenant’s salary of 51,000 francs. Lacking an automobile of their own, they depended on a friend to move them to their new home. The village itself had only one automobile. That belonged to the garagiste.
The house was modest with minimal comforts; no running water for the first two years, no central heating, and electricity in only some of the rooms. The de Gaulles lived modestly throughout their married life even when occupying the stately structures that symbolized his authority.
De Gaulle was an avid reader. When assigned to a command post at Wangenbourg, Alsace, he ordered two books by Ernest Psichari and books by Guy de Pourtalès on the lives of great composers, Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert. Even as president of France he read two or three books a week. He always read the winners of significant literary prizes. He admired Charles Péguy for his inclusive view of France and Emmanuel Mounier for his Christian personalism.
He also wrote.
His first book, in English translation, was entitled, The Edge of the Sword (1932). It sold 1,500 copies the first year. Hitler read the book, annotating his copy. That was followed by The Army of the Future (1934), and France and Her Army (1938), a study of the way governments in different periods of history were able to forge an army “worthy of the role that France was destined to play.”
From the moment of his exile in 1940, de Gaulle regarded himself as the true incarnation of France, “faithful interpreter of the wishes and hopes of our people.”
“I am a free Frenchman,” he declared, “I believe in God and the future of my homeland. The Free French must avoid political partnership. Whatever anyone’s beliefs and origins they must be a brother for all the others from the moment they begin serving France.”
De Gaulle was forty-nine when he arrived in London on June 17, 1940. His family after some mishap arrived from Bordeaux on June 20 and found accommodations at Hotel Rubens near Buckingham Palace. His son, Philip, later remembered that it was the only time he had ever seen his parents kiss in public.
The correspondence between de Gaulle and Jacques Maritain is sparse, but worth noting. Both agreed that France was not only engaged in a military conflict but in a spiritual struggle as well. In January 1941, de Gaulle wrote to Maritain, “Like you, I believe that our people are suffering from a kind of moral collapse. I thought that to climb out of the abyss the first thing was to prevent people from resigning themselves to infamy and slavery. . . . I think that we will have to profit from the national rassemblement around pride in ourselves and resistance to lead the nation toward a new democratic ideal.”
In November 1941, Maritain wrote to de Gaulle to the effect, given the fact that the bourgeoisie had betrayed France, that the country needed a “new regime reconciling Christianity and liberty, i.e., the tradition of St. Louis and the tradition of the Rights of Man.” De Gaulle wrote back, “I am not worried for the future of democracy. Its enemies are only ciphers. I do not fear for the future of religion. The bishops have behaved badly but there are good curés, simple priests, who are saving us. . . . All that is healthiest in France is the people.”
De Gaulle was not enthusiastic about the reforms following Vatican II. He worried that Pope John XXIII had been unduly influenced by a Vatican group who wanted to revolutionize everything. “I am not sure the Church was right to suppress processions and the Latin service….It is always wrong to give the impression of denying oneself and being ashamed of what one is. How can you expect others to believe in you if you do not believe in yourself?”
When President Mitterrand in 1965 proposed that the contraceptive pill be legalized, de Gaulle objected, “One must not reduce women to machines for making love. This goes against all that is most precious in women: fecundity. A woman is made to have children. If one tolerates the pill nothing will hold sway anymore. Sex will invade everything.”
From Jackson’s copious account, we learn much about Europe’s political struggles during the interim war years and much more about the years between September 1939 and June 1945. When de Gaulle arrived in London, Jacques Maritain, at that time living in New York, was the most famous Frenchman in exile. Maritain advised de Gaulle to confine himself to a symbolic role rather than try to form a government in exile. De Gaulle begged to differ. “Men cannot do without being led any more than they can do without eating, drinking and sleeping. Leaders have to be able to stir the imagination and excite the latent faith of the many.”
This he did in his nightly broadcasts from London.
De Gaulle regarded the Vichy government of General Petain as collaborationist and declared that he was the true leader of the Free French. The Vichy government responded in 1940 by depriving de Gaulle of his citizenship and condemning him to death.
To rally the Free French in what remained of the Western Empire, de Gaulle spent six weeks in Africa. Jackson describes it as an “epiphany,” for de Gaulle was lauded and cheered wherever he went. In Brazzaville and Gabon he discovered he was a living legend. As he recalled the experience: “There was a person named de Gaulle who existed in other peoples’ minds, a separate personality from myself.” He was emboldened by that public perception. While in Brazzaville, he issued a manifesto, setting up an Empire Defense Council and exercising powers in its name, in the name of France.
With the German defeat at Stalingrad in 1943, it was clear that the war had turned decisively in favor of the Allies and at some point a landing in France would be attempted. To prevent France from falling into the hands of the Communists, de Gaulle formed a provisional government which he would lead from 1944-1946. He had come to the conclusion early in 1940 that the only way to save France was to leave France. With the aid of his lectures on BBC and the support of Churchill, de Gaulle imposed himself as the only public voice to offer an alternative view to that of Petain. On June 28, 1940 Churchill agreed officially to recognize de Gaulle as the leader of the Free French.
De Gaulle may not have been a natural orator, but the oddity of his delivery and diction gave an extra weight to his speeches.
With Liberation in 1945, de Gaulle became provisional president of the Fourth Republic. When the nation was forced to choose the kind of political system it would adopt, de Gaulle advocated a presidential rather than a parliamentary one. The issue was put to a referendum. In resigning his provisional role, he expected that public support would bring him back to power with a mandate for his preferred mode of governance, but the National Assembly chose instead Felix Gouin. The history of the Fourth Republic is one of inter-party feuding, inaction, and chaos.
In 1958 de Gaulle came out of retirement at the request of the National Assembly to deal with the crisis brought on by the Algerian War. He was appointed prime minister by Rene Coty and charged by Coty to rewrite the constitution of France, which became the foundation of the Fifth Republic. He was elected president later that year and reelected in 1965, a position he held until his retirement to Colombey in 1969.
When de Gaulle was elected president of the Fifth Republic in 1958, Jean Paul Sartre was violent in his anti-Gaullism. Le Monde had become the voice of the progressive left.
The only significant “intellectual” to support de Gaulle was Francois Mauriac. As an early biographer of de Gaulle, Mauriac wrote: “As a Christian I feel confirmed in my certainty that de Gaulle is not a man of destiny; he is a man of divine grace.” Mauriac’s biography, it may be noted, was so effusive in its assessment of de Gaulle’s achievements that even Mauriac’s admirers thought of it as a hagiography.
On November 2, l964, All Saints Day, Charles and Yvonne went as they did annually to pay their respects at the gravesite of their daughter Anne. On November 9 de Gaulle worked as usual, interrupting his day’s work by two brief walks. He took tea with his wife and was writing some family letters when he shouted in pain and slumped on the table. Yvonne called the doctor and the village priest. De Gaulle received the Last Rites before he died at 7:25 p.m.
Yvonne had the body laid out in the center of the room, dressed him in his uniform and covered the body with the tricolor. On the table at his bedside were two candles, a crucifix and a cup of holy water, usually provided for the priest administering the Last Rites. She placed in his hands a rosary that had been given to him by Pope John XXIII. Yvonne maintained a silent vigil through the night and released the news of his death the next morning.

The Honor Of France

In 1940, Jacques Maritain may have been critical of de Gaulle’s attempt to form a government in exile, but by 1942 his reservation had given way to the recognition that de Gaulle’s refusal to accept defeat was “a chivalric act that gave hope to the French.”
Julian Jackson recalls Maritain’s words with approval: “Now that the rancid arguments of the Vichy apologists are long past, there cannot be a French citizen who does not recognize the truth of Maritain’s statement and who does not feel justifiably proud of their country as a result of what de Gaulle achieved between 1940 and 1944. He saved the honor of France.”
Jackson’s magnificent account of this great man is equal to the man himself.

+ + +

(Jude P. Dougherty is a dean emeritus and professor emeritus of the Catholic University of America.)

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

If it is any reassurance to the "good" nun. Satan agrees with you 100 percent!

Load More...

Fox News religion contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris asks Pope to be released from priestly vows

May 17, 2019, LifeSiteNews — Fox News contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris announced today that he is seeking permission from Pope Francis to be released from his priestly vows so that he can one day be able to “marry and have a family.”…Continue Reading

DC Catholic school will acknowledge LGBT alumnae couples

WASHINGTON – A 220-year-old Catholic girls’ school in Washington, D.C., will now allow news about same-sex unions in its alumnae magazine. News outlets report the president emerita of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Sister Mary Berchmans, announced the change this month. She…Continue Reading

DC Catholic school will acknowledge LGBT alumnae couples

WASHINGTON — A 220-year-old Catholic girls’ school in Washington, D.C., will now allow news about same-sex unions in its alumnae magazine. News outlets report the president emerita of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Sister Mary Berchmans, announced the change this month.…Continue Reading

Hundreds of pro-lifers rally in Philadelphia to call out Democrat ‘bully’ Brian Sims

PHILADELPHIA, May 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A lineup of leading pro-life advocates gathered in Philadelphia Friday morning outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility where State Rep. Brian Sims filmed himself berating peaceful pro-life activists, including teen girls. Over the…Continue Reading

Vatican issues norms for reports of abuse of minors, seminarians, and religious

Vatican City, May 9, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA).- New Vatican norms for the Church’s handling of sex abuse, issued Thursday, place seminarians and religious coerced into sexual activity through the misuse of authority in the same criminal category as…Continue Reading

Civil appeals court dismisses legal challenge, says Sheen’s body can go to Peoria

Albany, N.Y., May 6, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The New York Court of Appeals has dismissed an appeal of an earlier judgement allowing Venerable Fulton Sheen’s remains to be moved to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria, in…Continue Reading

U.S. hospital set to euthanize elderly woman who says on video ‘I want to live’

May 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A 64-year-old woman with lung cancer is allegedly at risk of being euthanized by a Minnesota hospital, despite having stated emphatically from her hospital bed in a video that is now going viral that she…Continue Reading

Federal judge issues nationwide block on Trump rule cutting $60 million from Planned Parenthood

April 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction Thursday against the Trump administration’s rule that threatens to cut a tenth of Planned Parenthood’s federal tax funding by disqualifying abortion groups from family-planning funds. In February, the…Continue Reading

Bishop Donald J. Hying appointed to lead Madison diocese

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2019 / 04:04 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Thursday appointed Donald J. Hying the next bishop of Madison, Wis., following the death of Bishop Robert C. Morlino in November. Hying, 55, has been the bishop of Gary,…Continue Reading

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., has died at the age of 91

Fr. James V. Schall, the prolific and much-beloved Jesuit, professor and author, died earlier today. His family states that “he was comfortable and at peace” at the time of his death. He was born in Pocahontas, Iowa, January 20, 1928.…Continue Reading

North Carolina Gov. vetoes bill requiring care for babies born alive after failed abortion

RALEIGH, April 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation Thursday morning that would require abortionists to provide basic medical care to newborns who survive failed abortions, just days after the measure cleared the state legislature.…Continue Reading

How Cardinal Wuerl Misled the Papal Foundation

In 2017, Cardinal Donald Wuerl provided false and misleading information to the board of the Papal Foundation to secure a $25 million grant for the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a scandal-plagued hospital in Rome. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

US bishops oppose Trump immigration plan, say families are foundational

Washington D.C., May 19, 2019 / 03:09 am (CNA).- Leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference voiced concern over President Donald Trump’s new immigration plan, stressing that families should be strengthened and promoted in the immigration system. “We oppose proposals that seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely ‘merit-based’ immigration system,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, who heads…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke leads thousands in 9th annual Rome March for Life

ROME, Italy, May 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Thousands of joy-filled pro-lifers young and old from across the world took part in the Rome March for Life today beneath a sunny sky and behind Catholic Cardinal Raymond Burke, who lead the prayerful, song-filled demonstration through the busy streets of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk was also present at the event’s outset.

House passes sweeping legislation to expand LGBTQ civil rights but GOP lawmakers worry it may threaten the rights of women

A Republican-backed motion to block the Equality Act, which would provide civil rights protections to gay and transgender people, failed on Friday as the House of Representatives voted to approve the bill, 236 to 173. The bill had the support of every Democrat in the House, along with eight Republicans. If it also passes in the Senate, President Trump is expected to veto the measure when it reaches his desk. The new anti-discrimination leg

Dominican scholar: Church crisis calls for renewal of Catholic teaching on freedom

Vatican City, May 9, 2019 / 10:57 am (CNA).- According to a Dominican scholar, the crisis of priestly fidelity is connected to a new cultural conception of human freedom – and the solution will require re-embracing the Church’s view of freedom as something which points to God. Fr. Thomas White, OP, is a professor of theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (“The Angelicum”) in Rome and is the director of the university’s…Continue Reading

Bishop Olmsted sees ‘renewal’ in priestly formation, despite scandal

Phoenix, Ariz., May 10, 2019 / 12:08 am (CNA).- Despite the scandals of clerical sexual abuse that the Catholic Church has suffered in past decades, the Church in the United States has also enjoyed a “renewal” in priestly formation, says Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona. In a monthly series of columns, Olmsted has been considering various aspects of the Church scandal, as well as ways to move forward in purification. “Having addressed some of…Continue Reading


Pro-Infanticide Governor Called A Moderate

By BILL DONOHUE (Editor’s Note: Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented May 15 on how the media are covering a supporter of infanticide.) + + + Infanticide is the deliberate killing of infants, either by active or passive measures. In Nazi Germany, they preferred the former; in this country, we prefer the latter. New York…Continue Reading

Tariffs: The Taxes That Made America Great

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN As his limo carried him to work at the White House May 13, Larry Kudlow could not have been pleased with the headline in The Washington Post: “Kudlow Contradicts Trump on Tariffs.” The story began: “National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow acknowledged Sunday that American consumers end up paying for the…Continue Reading

The Primacy Of The Spiritual

By DONALD DeMARCO I was visiting an elderly lady whose refrigerator had broken down. She pointed sadly to the ice-cube tray which contained little circumscribed pools of water. “That’s what keeps the fridge cold,” she said. It would have been inexcusably impolite to correct her on this point. Her thoughts of melted ice cream, soggy…Continue Reading

In China… Workers Making Apple IPhones Start At $3.15 Per Hour

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributes his column. All rights reserved.) + + + The workers who assemble Apple iPhones make a starting wage of $3.15 per hour in the People’s Republic of China, according to The New York Times. “Apple has said the…Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Legislator . . . Acknowledges Aggression Toward Woman Praying At Planned Parenthood

HARRISBURT, Pa. (CNA) — Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania state legislator who on May 2 confronted a woman praying outside Planned Parenthood, said in a video posted to social media May 7 that he was aggressive, and he reiterated his intention of “pushing back” against those who pray or protest outside abortion facilities. Sims had livestreamed…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixth Sunday Of Easter (YR C) Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23 John 14:23-29 In the Gospel reading today, our Lord tells us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid. It seems to be a rare person today who can actually say he is neither troubled nor afraid. With all that is going…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Pope Is A Catholic

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The Church is in the grip of a frenzy of accusations, some of them rather superficial. It seems we may be in a bit of a correction period after the pendulum of papolatry swung so far during the reign of Pope St. John Paul II. He enjoyed a very high degree of popularity. Held as…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. A visiting priest gave a homily at Mass today and referred to a book entitled The American Catechism. Do you know what this new catechism is, and is it devoted to the truth of the Magisterium? — J.W., via e-mail. A. The only book we know of with a similar title is the St. Joseph New American Catechism, which…Continue Reading

Gratitude In The Sacred Liturgy And Beyond

By JAMES MONTI The flickering glow of a red sanctuary lamp near the Tabernacle in a quiet church has a lot to teach us, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. It is called a “perpetual” lamp, a lamp meant to burn unceasingly by night and by day, whether seen or unseen, and it bespeaks of unquenchable…Continue Reading

A Share In The Sufferings Of Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday Of Easter (YR C) Readings: Acts 14:21-27 Rev. 21:1-5a John 13:31-33a, 34-35 In the Gospel reading today our Lord, speaking at the Last Supper, says to His apostles: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Paschal Baylon

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the sixteenth century, the Spanish Empire covered the globe, having the most influence and power in its history. For the Catholic Church of Spain, that time was known as the Golden Age. Despite the troubles of the Protestant Revolution, Spain benefited from the work of her saints such as St. Peter of Alcantara, St. John of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Nunzio Sulprizio

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the hagiography of the saints in the Catholic Church, there are rich and poor, noble persons and peasants, brilliant intellects and simple minds, and young as well as old. Perhaps the youngest canonized saint is St. Maria Goretti, who died at the age of eleven defending her honor. At the age of 14, St. José Sanchez…Continue Reading