The Paris Game
The Paris Game: Charles de Gaulle, the Liberation of Paris, and the Gamble that Won France
To be published by Dundurn Press, Toronto, Aug. 2, 2014
432 Pages, Photos, Notes, Index – $35.00
By Ray Argyle
Foreword by Maurice Vaisse
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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.”
Ray Argyle’s long association with France began as a young reporter aboard the first trans-polar commercial flight from the west coast of North America to Europe. He returned to Paris many times, soaking up the atmosphere of the City of Light while tracking the political career of Charles de Gaulle and his successors in the Fifth Republic. Argyle worked for United Press International before establishing Argyle Communications Inc. where he counselled political leaders and business executives. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for significant contributions to Canadian life. When not travelling in France, he lives in Kingston, Ont., with his partner Deborah Windsor.
Wm. D. Irvine, Prof. Emeritus, Dept. of History, York University, Toronto
The Paris Game is a particularly engaging history of the Free French movement and Charles de Gaulle. It is both beautifully written and thoroughly researched. De Gaulle was a central actor in French and world history from 1940 until his death three decades later. He was both an enigmatic and controversial character. To this day historians still debate his role and legacy in the world of the late twentieth century. Ray Argyle deftly addresses these debates and gently guides the reader through them. What emerges is a compelling portrait of one of the great leaders of the last century. For the general reader looking for the one book to read about Charles de Gaulle, this would be it.