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Alexandra Reza: Sankara and Mitterrand, 4 December 2014

... A news​ broadcast from 17 November 1986 shows François Mitterrand and Thomas Sankara at an official dinner in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Sankara had taken power in a military coup three years before. In the clip he is on his feet delivering a speech and Mitterrand is seated ...

President François Misprint

Richard Mayne, 1 April 1983

The Wheat and the Chaff: The Personal Diaries of the President of France 1971-1978 
by François Mitterrand, translated by Richard Woodward, Helen Lane and Concilia Hayter.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 297 78101 4
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The French 
by Theodore Zeldin.
Collins, 542 pp., £12.95, January 1983, 0 00 216806 5
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... than the careful prose of Giscard d’Estaing. Like Georges Pompidou, anthologist of poetry, Mitterrand was nurtured on the French classics. Brought up near Cognac in a Catholic family, he was always bookish, and thought of being a priest; later, although a man of action, a Resistance fighter, and a student of Marxism, he seems always to have valued his ...

Diary

Patrice Higonnet: On Jacques Chirac, 22 June 1995

... Did France need François Mitterrand? I hope not: the man was so vain, so shallow, so duplicitous, so amoral. It wasn’t just that you couldn’t believe anything he said: you couldn’t even consistently believe its opposite. In fact, you couldn’t listen to him without feeling you had somehow been deceived ...

Veni, Vidi, Vichy

Jean-Pierre Chapelas, 9 March 1995

Une Jeunesse française: François Mitterrand 1934-1947 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 615 pp., frs 160, September 1994, 2 213 59300 0
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... intelligent, fond of disguises, fully determined from the start to work for the greater glory of François Mitterrand. But with one ‘gap’, as it were, through which the wind from the left could come gusting in, that same left which in his young days our hero had so vigorously rejected. This boy from the South-West, educated in private schools and ...

Republican King

Philippe Marlière: François Mitterrand, 16 April 2014

MitterrandA Study in Ambiguity 
by Philip Short.
Bodley Head, 692 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84792 006 5
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... AT 8 p.m.​ on 10 May 1981 François Mitterrand made history. On Antenne 2 – a state-run television channel – his face was broadcast to millions of French households. It took three seconds for the image to appear clearly, but it felt like an eternity. First, a bald head (which, at this stage, could have been mistaken for that of the incumbent, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, also bald), then the eyes and the mouth and, finally, the full portrait ...

The Greatest

R.W. Johnson, 4 August 1994

Charles de Gaulle, Futurist of the Nation 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 111 pp., £29.95, April 1994, 0 86091 622 7
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De Gaulle and 20th-Century France 
edited by Hugh Gough and John Horne.
Edward Arnold, 158 pp., £12.99, March 1994, 0 340 58826 8
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François MitterrandA Study in Political Leadership 
by Alistair Cole.
Routledge, 216 pp., £19.99, March 1994, 0 415 07159 3
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... in the last century is embodied in the strange trinity of Philippe Pétain, Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand. Pétain, born in 1856, was old enough to remember the humiliation of France at the hands of Prussia in 1870, and like other French officers of his period, spent his entire military career in anticipation of what he believed would be the ...

Disaffiliate, Reaffiliate, Kill Again

Jeremy Harding: Régis Debray, 7 February 2008

Praised Be Our Lords: The Autobiography 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 328 pp., £19.99, April 2007, 978 1 84467 140 3
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... up by Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda. Ten years later he became an adviser at the Elysée to François Mitterrand, his country’s only postwar socialist president. He is a revolutionary Third Worldist turned revisionist, turned Gaullist – his Gaullism a lament for the absence of credible leaders anywhere on the European horizon. He is, above ...

May ’88

Douglas Johnson, 21 April 1988

Les Sept Mitterrand 
by Catherine Nay.
Grasset, 286 pp., frs 96, September 1988, 2 246 36291 1
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Secker, 647 pp., £22.50, October 1987, 0 436 01746 6
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Jacques Chirac 
by Franz-Oliver Giesbert.
Seuil, 455 pp., frs 125, April 1987, 2 02 009771 0
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Monsieur Barre 
by Henri Amouroux.
Laffont, 584 pp., frs 125, June 1986, 2 221 04954 3
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The Workers’ Movement 
by Alain Touraine, Michel Wieviorka and François Dubet, translated by Ian Patterson.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 322 pp., £35, October 1987, 0 521 30852 6
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The State and the Market Economy: Industrial Patriotism and Economic Intervention in France 
by Jack Hayward.
Wheatsheaf, 267 pp., £32.50, December 1985, 0 7450 0012 6
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France under Recession 1981-86 
by John Tuppen.
Macmillan, 280 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 333 39889 0
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... In April 1984 President Mitterrand gave a press conference unlike any that had previously been held under the Fifth Republic. He did not sit at a sombre bureau Louis XV decorated with red, white and blue flowers. He was not playing the part of the professor from the Sorbonne, as de Gaulle had so often done, lecturing his audience on the history of France ...

A Few Pitiful Traitors

David Drake: The French Resistance, 4 May 2016

Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance 
by Robert Gildea.
Faber, 593 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 571 28034 6
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Occupation Trilogy: ‘La Place de l’etoile’, ‘The Night Watch’, ‘Ring Roads’ 
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Caroline Hillier, Patricia Wolf and Frank Wynne.
Bloomsbury, 336 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 1 4088 6790 7
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... government and its police force, headed by René Bousquet, in the deportation of French Jews. François Mitterrand, president from 1981 to 1995, made clear his distaste for pursuing Vichy officials: France, he insisted, shouldn’t waste time settling old scores. In Une Jeunesse française, published in 1994, Pierre Péan revealed that ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 14 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... all the same, and when, a little over three years later, Jack Lang invited Barthes to lunch with François Mitterrand, Barthes worried that accepting would be viewed as a craven attempt to make amends. Mitterrand enjoyed chatting with people like Barthes, but the lunch also appeared to be aimed at brushing some ...

Diary

Mat Pires: La Princesse de Clèves at the Barricades, 9 April 2009

... last prime minister, wrote and published poetry in his spare time, and as recently as 1981 François Mitterrand posed for his official photograph glancing up from a copy of Montaigne’s Essays. Seen from France in 2009, this image might as well be the Arnolfinis’ wedding portrait. Sarkozy, who admits to finding the Comédie-Française ...

Mendès

R.W. Johnson, 20 June 1985

Pierre Mendès France 
by Jean Lacouture, translated by George Holoch.
Holmes & Meier, 486 pp., $34.50, December 1984, 0 8419 0856 7
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... own parliamentary naivety, he recruited the most brilliant young man in the Assembly to help him, François Mitterrand, whom Lacouture describes as ‘a parliamentary zoologist of incomparable skill’. ‘No one,’ Lacouture says, ‘was more knowledgeable about the deputies, their talents and their weaknesses, their past performances, their secret ...

History is always to hand

Douglas Johnson, 8 December 1988

Notre Siècle: 1918-1988 
by René Rémond.
Fayard, 1012 pp., frs 190, February 1988, 2 213 02039 6
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Histoire de la Vie Privée: De la Première Guerre Mondiale à nos Jours 
edited by Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby.
Seuil, 634 pp., frs 375, May 1988, 2 02 008987 4
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France since the Popular Front: Government and People 1936-1986 
by Maurice Larkin.
Oxford, 435 pp., £30, July 1988, 0 19 873034 9
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Penguin, 647 pp., £6.95, June 1988, 0 14 010098 9
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... seven days. No need, therefore, to express astonishment at the fact that Quimper voted solidly for Mitterrand and elected a Socialist deputy. Similarly, in Normandy in 1950 one out of every two members of the active population was engaged in agriculture. Now nine out of ten people work in industry or in the service sectors. It is only natural therefore that a ...

Danger: English Lessons

R.W. Johnson: French v. English, 16 March 2017

Power and Glory: France’s Secret Wars with Britain and America, 1945-2016 
by R.T. Howard.
Biteback, 344 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 1 78590 116 4
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... Biafra. At times a complete rupture in diplomatic relations seemed possible. When Chad’s ruler, François Tombalbaye, allowed Continental Oil (a US company) access to Chad’s oil, Paris arranged for him to be overthrown. In Madagascar there was a pantomime of coups and counter-coups organised by the French and the CIA against one another. Underlying ...

ˆ

John Sturrock, 4 January 1996

L’Accent du souvenir 
by Bernard Cerquiglini.
Minuit, 165 pp., frs 99, September 1995, 2 7073 1536 2
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... however: once again, the circumflex found intelligent defenders, among them the then President, François Mitterrand, who quashed the proposal and was able afterwards to claim: ‘I have saved a few accents.’ Cerquiglini is on the conservative side, almost lyrically so at moments, as when he describes his favourite accent as a ‘graphic sign that ...

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