The Current Issue

July 2018, Issue 466 Richard Vinen on Charles de Gaulle * David Wheatley on Flann O'Brien * Susan Owens on the Royal Academy * Miranda Seymour on Elizabeth Lamb * Jonathan Meades on Emmanuel Macron * Clare Griffiths on Peter Lanyon * Daniel Matlin on Alain Locke * Jason Pearl on a horse performer's memoir * Peter Thonemann on Alcibiades * Shahidha Bari on Macaroni Men * Richard Norton-Taylor on spies and special forces * Pamela Norris on Anne Tyler * Lucian Robinson on Ottessa Moshfegh * Christopher Fletcher on auto-destructive books *  and much, much more…

Richard Vinen

A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle

By Julian Jackson

Who was Charles de Gaulle? Stop the clock in 1939 and he was an eccentric army officer. Stop it in July 1940, after he had flown to London, and he was claiming to represent France against the Vichy regime – though some Englishmen admired this right-wing Catholic because they thought of him as almost as much of an opponent of the Third Republic as he was of the Vichy state. Stop the clock in 1945 and he was head of the French government, supported by republicans and even communists. Stop it a year later and he had resigned in a huff; his career was apparently over. The British ambassador to Paris wrote: ‘On … the eve of the anniversary of Louis XVI’s execution, General de Gaulle cut off his own head and passed into the shadow-land of politics.’... read more

More Articles from this Issue

David Wheatley

The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien

By Maebh Long (ed)

In recent years, Flann O’Brien has often been characterised as the third member of the sacred trinity of Irish modernism, the Holy Ghost to James Joyce’s God the Father and Samuel Beckett’s God the Son. If so, he shares with the Holy Ghost a certain vagueness as to his identity: the press release that accompanies this book refers to him as ‘O’Nolan, or O’Brien, or Myles nagCopaleen or whatever his... read more

Jonathan Meades

Revolution Française: Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation

By Sophie Pedder

In 2011 Emmanuel Macron, no stranger to statements of the obvious, wrote in Esprit: ‘Everything ought not to be expected of one man. The 2012 presidential election will no more deliver us a demiurge, a mechanic of the universe, than any previous election has … The reconstruction of responsible politics cannot be effected by personal charisma, by a compact between an absolutist and his people... read more

Peter Thonemann

Nemesis: Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens

By David Stuttard

Of all personality traits, charisma is the hardest to appreciate at second hand. We read Cicero’s letters and can instantly tell that he was vain, insecure and ferociously clever; we read scraps of Samuel Johnson’s conversation in Boswell’s biography and know at once that he was magnificent, lovable and desperately unhappy. But as to what it was like to have Lord Byron turn the full force of his attention onto you ... read more

Richard Norton-Taylor

Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy

By Rory Cormac

This is a welcome and most timely book. Britain’s intelligence agencies are cooperating more than ever with the armed forces in covert operations. In particular, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) – or MI6 as it is commonly known – and GCHQ, the global eavesdropping and cybersecurity agency, are developing a close, even symbiotic relationship with Britain’s... read more

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