Books: Everything for France

CHARLES DE GAULLE: A BIOGRAPHY by Don Cook: Putnam; 432 pages; $22.95

Shortly after World War II, one the heaviest smokers in French government abruptly gave up cigarettes. "I have succeeded in sticking to it by telling everyone I was not smoking any more," he explained gravely. "De Gaulle cannot go back on his word."

Who else but the speaker ever took himself quite so seriously? The man who rescued France from ignominy in World War II and from constitutional paralysis afterward was not always as good as his word, much to the exasperation of...

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