The General and the Journalist

Tobias Grey meets the journalist who was at Charles de Gaulle’s side for twenty-six years.

Never short of a bon mot, Charles de Gaulle was particularly creative when it came to journalists, especially French ones. ‘Mr It’s-got-to-go-wrong’ was his pet name for Hubert Beuve-Méry, the journalist who founded Le Monde, the French newspaper of reference after the Second World War. Raymond Aron, an influential columnist at the right-wing Le Figaro, didn’t fare much better: ‘A journalist at the College of France and a professor at Le Figaro’, de Gaulle grumbled.

Admiration must therefore go to Jean Mauriac, who spent twenty-six years (from August 1944 to de Gaulle's death in November 1970) reporting the general's every move for the French news agency, Agence France Presse (AFP). At the grand age of eighty-four, Mauriac has become the talk of Paris with Le Général el le journaliste, a book of conversations with the historian JeanLuc Barré which brings de Gaulle vividly to life in all his curmudgeonly splendour.

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