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Publishers WeeklyThis first full-scale biography in English of the "liberator of Paris," Philippe de Hauteclocque (known by his more celebrated nom de guerre "Leclerc"), focuses primarily on the WWII general's military campaigns in France and North Africa. Joining General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French Forces, Leclerc distinguished himself early on by leading poorly equipped French forces to beat back Axis powers in Chad and Libya. These victories set the stage for his greatest moments, including the recapture of Paris and Strasbourg. Sent to French Indochina after the war to appraise the situation there, the ardent colonialist proved prescient when he realized that French officials were outmatched by Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader committed to independence for the southeast Asian nation: "There are too many people here who imagine that a bridge between France and Vietnam can be built on a mound of cadavers." His reputation was such that his death in a plane crash in Algeria prompted a national day of mourning for a man considered to be one of France's greatest wartime heroes. Though there are interesting tidbits about his interactions with other generals like Omar Bradley and Douglas MacArthur, those accounts are superficial at best. Even the meetings between Leclerc and de Gaulle are stripped of any penetrating insights into their wartime relationship. The descriptions of Leclerc's military strategies and tactics are engaging, but depictions of the flesh and blood figures who he encountered throughout his storied career are few and far between. Photos and maps.
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