What happens when two foxes meet

Posted by Helen Thursday, March 30, 2006

You’ve heard of the fox and the hedgehog, well, here is the tale of the British fox and the French fox.

It would appear that the French fox was the winner in the final battle. Or was he? The two foxes, Harold Macmillan and Charles de Gaulle are the subject of Dr Peter Mangold’s latest book “The Almost Impossible Ally” (that’s de Gaulle, not Macmillan, though some in the Conservative Party might have disagreed).

Peter Mangold will also be speaking at the next meeting of the Conservative History Group, on Tuesday 25th April at 6.30 in the House of Commons, Committee Room 16.

Admission is free to members of the Conservative History Group. Others might like to take the opportunity to join. In any case, email Iain Dale at iain@iaindale.com.

Peter Mangold was himself a foreign policy practitioner in the past, as a diplomat and a journalist. He has written on British foreign policy before.

To give you an idea of his theme, here is a quote from the publisher’s announcement:

“Peter Mangold writes in arresting detail about the fascinating personal duel that shaped high politics and Anglo-French diplomacy. He portrays two of the most complex and skilful leaders of the post-war era, old friends from their association in Algiers during World War II: de Gaulle the dour, lofty moralist obsessed with high notions of France; and Macmillan, the canny, ambitious fixer, always the pragmatist seeking to get things done.

As Resident Minister, Allied Forces Headquarters in Algiers in 1943, Macmillan had done much to help de Gaulle, and protect him from Churchill's and Roosevelt's hostility. They next met in 1958, as leaders of their two countries, when Britain and France faced many similar problems ranging from decolonization and their determination to retain national Great Power status to relations with the impetuous Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev.

But while both seemed anxious to retain their old wartime connection, they were now rivals with very different views of the world. Divided by the Atlantic as much as the Channel, the two leaders disagreed fundamentally over America. De Gaulle sought the leadership of a Europe independent of the United States; the pro-American Macmillan talked of Britain as a 'bridge' between the two sides of the Atlantic.”

Come and hear the rest of it on the 25th. I shall be looking for a volunteer to review the book in the next issue of the Conservative History Journal, which will focus on conservative foreign policy. An excellent coincidence.


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