By Philip Short
A definitive biography of 1 of the 20th century's so much glamorous, complex political figures.
As a political candidate and as a guy, from the Nineteen Thirties until eventually his demise in 1996, François Mitterrand was once the incarnation of the mercurial, contrarian France which Britain and the United States locate so perennially problematic to deal with.
A prisoner of conflict and an escapee, he was once hence either embellished for his provider to the Vichy executive and a servant of the Resistance; he used to be a right-wing firebrand within the Nineteen Forties, a centrist within the 50s and 60s, prior to devoting the remainder of his occupation to the left. He used to be accused of leaking secrets and techniques to Moscow, of faking an assassination try out opposed to himself, of numerous different intrigues. And but he possessed a top quality of greatness and a air of mystery which left his rivals within the shade.
To comprehend Mitterrand is to appreciate France in all its ambiguities and contradictions, its cowardice and glory, its turpitudes and tragedies. it is a lifestyles full of drama.
Mitterrand used to be a guy of significant presents and endless colours of deviousness, an aesthete and highbrow, a sensualist, a criminal. And what Philip brief provides us is a human up to a political biography -- the lifetime of an incredibly gifted and exceedingly unsuitable guy who made his profession in politics unintentionally and went directly to develop into France's longest-serving head of country in a century.
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Additional resources for Mitterrand: A Study in Ambiguity
It would take them another year to realise that his meaning was not what they thought. For de Gaulle such ambiguity was discretionary. For Mitterrand it was systemic. Laurent Fabius, his Prime Minister in the 1980s, wrote perceptively that ‘the key to Mitterrand’s personality, to his extraordinary success, to his [political] longevity and his energy, the key to the fascination which he exerted on others . . was his staggering and quite exceptional ambivalence . . a deep-seated, metaphysical ambivalence which made him view everything as both itself and its opposite, every person as both good and bad, every situation as containing the seeds of both tragedy and hope’.
Six hours before the attack, he had sent a letter to himself at a poste restante address describing in detail what was to happen. A bailiff accompanied him when he collected it and attested to the time on the postmark. For the press and for public opinion, it followed that Pesquet must be telling the truth. The only possible explanation was that he and Mitterrand had concocted the whole thing together. Overnight, from having been a hero, Mitterrand became a bad joke; at best a naïve dupe, at worst an incompetent trickster whose machinations had come unstuck, deserving, as one newspaper put it, ‘not hate, but a certain contempt’.
Afterwards with three companions, he drove to the Champs-Elysées, the great thoroughfare that points like an arrow into the heart of Paris, descending from the Arc de Triomphe to the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre. They bought Paris-Presse at a news-stand and stopped at a café, the Pam Pam, to discuss the story over a drink. ‘It seems things are coming to a head,’ Mitterrand murmured. At his suggestion they drove back to St Germain des Prés on the Left Bank, not far from his home, to have a nightcap at the Brasserie Lipp.
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