France: The Convocation

Under the heavily encrusted ceiling of the Elysee Palace's Salle des Fetes, one thousand newsmen and the French Cabinet sat in splendor on spindly gilt chairs, buzzing to themselves in the perfumed heat. Precisely at 3 o'clock, the buzzing stopped, a white-gloved valet parted the brocaded curtains in front of them, and out stepped the grandest Frenchman of them all. "Good day, ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate myself on seeing you," said Charles de Gaulle, opening his eleventh semiannual convocation of the press.

As always, De Gaulle had spent several days preparing, honing...

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