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markk

markk

Currently reading

Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century
Hendrik Meijer
Progress: 74/448 pages
Harold Brown: Offsetting the Soviet Military Challenge 1977-1981
Edward C. Keefer, Erin R. Mahan
Progress: 61/815 pages
The Paraguayan War, Volume 1: Causes and Early Conduct
Thomas L. Whigham
Progress: 257/520 pages

Skewed by a flawed premise

De Gaulle: Lessons in Leadership from the Defiant General - Michael E. Haskew, Wesley K. Clark

Michael Haskew's book is less an analysis of Charles de Gaulle's leadership style than it is a compact overview of the French leader's life with a concentration on his military career. In it, Haskew details de Gaulle's service in the French army, his experience in both world wars, and his relationship with other key contemporaries, most notably Philippe Pétain. Haskew writes well, and peppers his text with insightful anecdotes that are both engaging and illustrative of his subject. Yet perhaps because of its place in a series on "great generals" the book is based on a flawed premise: though de Gaulle spent over three decades in uniform, he was a general in direct command of French army units for only a few weeks before he transitioned to the more political role of leader of the Free French. This Haskew does cover as well, but then he glosses over the postwar era in which de Gaulle created a political movement and served as president of France for a decade. To glance over de Gaulle's more significant role as a politician in a book ostensibly dealing with his leadership is inexcusable, and limits the value of Haskew's book as a study of his fascinating subject. Readers seeking an introduction to de Gaulle's life and career would be far better served by reading Julian Jackson's de Gaulle, which in terms of coverage and analysis is everything Haskew's book is not.