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No leader of modern times was more uniquely patriotic than Charles de Gaulle. As founder and first president of the Fifth Republic, General de Gaulle saw himself as "carrying France on [his] shoulders." In his 20s, he fought for France in the trenches and at the epic battle of Verdun. In the 1930s, he waged a lonely battle to enable France to better resist Hitler's Germany. Thereafter, he twice rescued the nation from defeat and decline by extraordinary displays of leadership, political acumen, daring, and bluff, heading off civil war and leaving a heritage adopted by his successors of right and left.
Le Général, as he became known from 1940 on, appeared as if he was carved from a single monumental block, but was in fact extremely complex, a man with deep personal feelings and recurrent mood swings, devoted to his family and often seeking reassurance from those around him.
This is a magisterial, sweeping biography of one of the great leaders of the 20th century and of the country with which he so identified himself. Written with terrific verve, narrative skill, and rigorous detail, the first major work on de Gaulle in 15 years brings alive as never before the private man as well as the public leader through exhaustive research and analysis.
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
The BOOK is great. It moves fast and is well written. I will continue reading it with great joy. But I will NOT buy another Audible book because this was so dreadful. You need readers who bring a book alive, not readers who totally annihilate a book
What was most disappointing about Jonathan Fenby’s story?
Nothing was disappointing in the story, only with the narrator. It's a wonderful book when I read it myself. Audible destroys this book.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
His voice is dead. Little inflection. Very slow and over-pronounced. Almost like a computer reading the story, but frankly, Siri is MUCH better.<br/><br/>I expected an animated reading that I could play as I drive, but this reading is so horrible, that I'd fall asleep in 3 minutes. <br/><br/>This could be a dry book, considering it is a historical documentary. When I read it myself (and I could read the whole book by the time this reader has finished section 1 of 4-5 sections) it is lively and exciting. <br/><br/>Imagine books as documentaries: is the narrator lively? Does he make the story come alive? Does he keep your interest? Do you wait breathlessly for the next chapter? <br/><br/>That's what is needed here. However, with this narrator, I'd quickly change the channel.<br/><br/><br/>
What character would you cut from The General?
None. Great story. History. Documentary. I'd find a good narrator.
Any additional comments?
Please give me a refund. I couldn't bear going beyond 10 minutes.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Jonathan Fenby, in "The General" shows Charles de Gaulle as the first among twentieth century French patriots. During Hitler’s rise to power, de Gaulle (like Winston Churchill) argues against appeasement. While leaders, Lebrun and Daladier in France and Neville Chamberlain in England kowtow to Hitler, de Gaulle and Churchill stand against the majority of their respective countrymen.
Fenby shows de Gaulle to have been a man out of his time but clearly in tune with a great nation’s history. France’s defeat by Hitler is assuaged by a leader that understood his countrymen. Fenby explains how the myth and truth of de Gaulle returns France to a nation among nations; a nation to be respected and consulted in the affairs of the world. Fenby shows Charles de Gaulle as a prickly leader in the eyes of American Presidents, Russian leaders, and English Prime Ministers but with a weak hand from defeat in WWII, de Gaulle stands tall for the France he clearly loved.
"The General" is a must listen for those who wish to have some understanding of a big part of French’ interests and culture.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The General? What did you like least?
it's a comprehensive biography, and since De Gaulle dedicated himself to France (as a version of himself) it's a good account of France in the aftermath of WWII and the occupation. De Gaulle was a remarkable figure - principled, politically brilliant, rigid and narcissistic. Fenby gets you all the facts, but rarely reflects or interprets the history he presents. Ultimately, the life of De Gaulle becomes a bit of a blur, even though I listened to all 16 hours.
Would you recommend The General to your friends? Why or why not?
I don't think so. I listened to it following Charles Glass' book on Americans in Paris during the occupation, and for that book De Gaulle is an intriguing absent presence -- we only hear of him when broadcasting from London on the BBC. This book provided me with more history, but I found it a bit of slog.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Robin Bloodworth?
No ... although he has a fine French accent, he narrates so slowly I had to listen to the book on 1.25x, something I've never had to do before.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The General again? Why?
No, at least not any time soon; not that it is bad, but it is not the kind of thing to listen to over and over
What did you like best about this story?
The story and stories behind and concerning de Gaulle, not being French I never totally understood all the fuss they make about him. I understand now. His life was a truly fascinating one; an intellect, romantic, power hungry, monarchical, aristocratic, fearless, yet democratic Frenchman (more than anyone else in history, one could argue) to his nation, but a troubled, self-questioning, and insecure man to himself. What he did is remarkable, what he could not because of the people he so loved is also just as profound. he was a man who stood up to bigger nations, who never gave in, and could only have it his way. And though he was unrealistic, he was made not into a clown, but into a hero. Standing up to ones principles, even if they are said to be wrong, is the lesson of Charles De Gaulle. There is no attitude of character more important, more fundamental. Charles Du Gaulle's victories and his defeats are truly profound and stirring.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No by god! That would require more than one whole day
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I lost interest halfway through. How many examples can you hear about a prickly man who cares more about the honors he is shown than governing before you give up? The narrator is overly slow, which does not help.
thanks for the book it was readable or I should say listenable. how many more words...?
What disappointed you about The General?
The work was very slow and stilted. But the reader voice and interpretation was dreadful
What could Jonathan Fenby have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Get rid of a lot of frivolous detail. Who cares what color shirt was worn to a meeting. Very tedious.
Would you be willing to try another one of Robin Bloodworth’s performances?
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The General?
The whole thing should be rewritten.
de Gaulle is an interesting character. I'm not sure anyone can really get to the heart of that man. He is a man who would refer to himself in the third person. I suspect he was an introvert, from what appears here. He is also, very clearly dedicated to the greatness of France, which is a noble undertaking to do the best for one's country. What was particularly striking was the General's love for his daughter Anne, who had Down's Syndrome. De Gaulle is one the major figure of the Second World War, that I had yet to explore. He is quite the contrast from Churchill. I do think both were great patriots.