THE U.S. was deeply preoccupied with politics and with social ferment at home. Yet the events in France, with the sudden tottering of that tall, human statue, brought a sense of shock and unease. Admittedly, Charles de Gaulle has done his best to harass and embarrass the U.S. in the world. Yet no French leader of this century could have risen to the time as he did. He was a hero because he seemed to outstare history, reversing trends and forces that had seemed irrevocable. In the decade since the general swept into power,...

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