ReadsWeekend

Heads of State at War, by General Bentegeat

(B2) Ten portraits of heads of state in the face of war. Of Napoleon III to Jacques Chirac, via Lincoln, Clemenceau, Churchill, Stalin, Hitler, Ben Gurion, Lyndon B. Johnson and Mitterrand, General Bentegeat revisits the ways in which these leaders approached, or had to support the war.

No emphasis or tortuous complexity in these ten portraits. The general succeeds in bringing us to the heart of the decision, by situating it in the historical but also human context. The reasons are mixed: to protect the people (in the name of the nation or the humanitarian ideal), to satisfy a dream of grandeur or to promote a personal dream.

The portraits are removed, easy to read. It almost feels like, at one point, in the alcove of power. But Jacques Chirac's former private chief of staff (from 2002 to 2006) then chief of the army staff from 2002 to 2006, before being chairman of the EU military committee, does not forget certain useful precisions, added according to the notes or the asides. This allows you to learn as much sometimes as great strategy books.

Specialists in the European 'thing' will thus appreciate Jacques Chirac's contribution to the Europe of defence, no doubt more concrete than did François Mitterand, who above all remained both in a UN dynamic and in a Franco-German symbolism.

• Editions Perrin, Paris, January 2019, 550 pages, 25 euros

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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