A controversial politician with a flawed character, Francois Mitterrand was one of France's most detested political figures, sardonically referred to as a French Machiavelli, "God," "the Florentine," and "the Sphinx." Yet he was also called the "Quiet Force" and even, with affection, "Tonton" or "Dear Uncle." He was undoubtedly one of twentieth-century Europe's most substantial, durable, and statesmanlike leaders. From his much-disputed involvement with Vichy during WWII through the major policies of his presidency, Mitterrand's career is a lens through which we can view the anxieties and instabilities as well as the achievements and successes of contemporary France. Ronald Tiersky examines the three major themes of Mitterrand's presidency-socialism, national reconciliation, and the reconstruction of Europe-and shows that on each count, Mitterrand left a decisive mark, if not necessarily the one he hoped for or intended. In this first major political biography of Mitterrand since his death, Tiersky considers the contradiction that was Mitterrand and the legacy he left to France and to the world. Francois Mitterrand: A French President promises to be the standard book for years to come on this remarkable leader.
Ronald Tiersky is the Eastman Professor of Politics at Amherst College.
Part I 1 Winding Path, Contested Itinerary Chapter 1 2 Introduction: France's Most Controversial Politician Chapter 2 3 The Observatory Affair (1959): Mitterrand's Defining Crisis Chapter 3 4 Mitterrand's World War II: Between Petain and de Gaulle Chapter 4 5 Government and Opposition, 1945 to 1981: Odyssey or Strategy? Part II 6 The Desire to Make History, 1981 to 1995 Chapter 5 7 Socialism Chapter 6 8 Europe Chapter 7 9 Legitimacy and Institutions Part III 10 Credo, Morality, Legacies Chapter 8 11 Machiavellian Republican Chapter 9 12 The Existential Mitterand Chapter 10 13 Mitterrand and the Human Comedy Chapter 11 14 Mitterrand Agonistes: Vichy Yet a Last Time (Fall 1994) Chapter 12 15 Conclusion: Legacies