First encounters
In 1940, General de Gaulle escaped Nazi-occupied France for England and declared himself head of the Free French forces there. He insisted, in defiance of realities, that the Third Republic had not succumbed with the fall of France but was alive and well in London, under his personal protection. He spoke of himself as the soul of France. In Washington, President Roosevelt scoffed. A time-and-again veteran of the American electoral process, he found such arrogation of titular authority, as if by divine right, galling. The general - a mere brigadier - had no mandate from his people. An arriviste, in Roosevelt's view.

But by 1943, Allied landings in French North Africa forced the issue of who should govern the liberated territories. Roosevelt settled on stuffy but malleable General Giraud. He was irate that both the French Resistance and the American public preferred de Gaulle - thus compelling him, when he met with Churchill at Anfa near Casablanca in January, to invite both generals.

De Gaulle arrived, towering, touchy. He grumbled at the barbed wire and bayonets, and American sentries on what he considered French soil. That evening he was conducted to Roosevelt's villa, where, on invitation, he sat stiffly on a couch beside his host. The president opened the dialogue in colloquial French. The general replied in the classic speech of the philosophes. Interpreters had to be called in, and they augmented the confusion. Roosevelt next tried graciousness and charm, but charm is difficult to translate, and the graciousness was belied by ominous presences in the upper gallery, bulging drapery, and the unmistakable outline of a tommy gun.

De Gaulle viewed the episode as hostile to him and, by extension, to France. He was intransigent on the subject of his own pre-eminence; when Roosevelt, with his own Dutch stubbornness, high- handedly announced that he could not back de Gaulle because France had not elected him, de Gaulle replied unblinkingly that Joan of Arc had not been elected either

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