FRANCE: The Watershed

As the moment neared, Frenchmen everywhere were tense with anticipation. In Algiers, settlers gathered around TV sets at home or sipped anisette at bars and cafes, waiting for the broadcast. From five minutes to 8 onward, the television cameras focused on a clock with a large second hand counting off the time down to 8 sharp. Then, at last, an announcer intoned, "16th September, 1959. Elysée Palace. General de Gaulle, President of the Republic and of the Community, addresses the nation."

On glowing screens in France and Algeria appeared tall, grave Charles de...

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