Most students of World War II are familiar with General Charles de Gaulle. Only the most serious know of General Philippe Leclerc. I consider myself very knowledgeable when it comes to World War II history. William Mortimer Moore’s biography of Philippe Leclerc filled a void in my education. The book is well-written. It held my attention.
The story begins with Leclerc’s death. We learn of his ill-fated November 1947 airplane flight and fatal crash in Algeria. We next are educated on the details of his family history including his coming from an old line of nobility being made aware of the role of his Catholic faith and heritage. We travel with Leclerc following the fall of France in 1940 to London. We go with him to Africa, as he becomes governor of French Cameroon, travel with him as he battles the Axis in Chad and moves his troops across West Africa where he distinguished himself in Tunisia.
General Leclerc commands the French 2nd Armored Division. They land in Normandy; he participates in the battle of the Falaise Pocket, and the liberation of Paris. Leclerc and de Gaulle had to persuade Eisenhower to send troops help the Parisians.
At the end of World War II in Europe, he received command of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps, and represented France during the surrender of the Japanese Empire, signing the surrender document for France. Leclerc is the commander over French Indo-China after World War II. He approved negations with Ho Chi Minh which were unsuccessful. He returned to France.
The book is a must read for any serious student of World War II in Europe. The book is extensively footnoted. The footnotes are heavy with secondary, rather than primary sources. It has an excellent index. It would be an excellent addition to any community, college or personal library. “Free France’s Lion: The Life Of Philippe Leclerc, De Gaulle’s Greatest General” is written by William Moore. The publisher is Casemate Publishers.