Confirmed this week as France's 20th Premier since World War II: Pierre Mendès-France, 47. "I hate politics, I do not indulge in politics, I am not a politician," he says, but his unorthodox approach has proved him to be the most consummate political strategist in France today.

Upbringing: The name Mendès-France, according to some who bear it, goes back to about 1300 when their forebears were driven from Portugal because they were Jews. Those who fled to France added their new homeland's name. The Premier is frequently called only Mendes (pronounced Mahn-dess). Pierre's parents were well-to-do and he received good schooling.

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