Francois Mitterrand was sardonically nicknamed "God," "the Florentine," a French Machiavellian, and "the Sphinx". Yet he was also called "the Quiet Force" and even, with affection, "Tonton" and "Dear Uncle". A controversial politician with a contested strategy and character, Mitterrand's vast political talent made him, in spite of his status as France's most detested political figure, one of contemporary Europe's most substantial, durable and statesmanlike leaders. This book views Mitterrand's career, from his much disputed passage at Vichy during World War II to the major policies of his presidency. It examines three major themes of Mitterrand's presidency - socialism, national reconciliation, and building Europe - showing on each count, Mitterrand left a decisive mark, if not necessarily the one he intended or hoped for.
RONALD TIERSKY has taught politics at Amherst College since 1973. His other books include France in the New Europe (1994), Ordinary Stalinism (1985), and French Communism (1974).