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A Taste for Intrigue: The Multiple Lives of François Mitterrand

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  76 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The man who changed the course of modern France

In 1981, François Mitterrand became France's first popularly elected socialist president. By the time he completed his mandate, he had led the country for 14 years, longer than any other French head of state in modern times. Mitterrand mirrored France in all its imperfections and tragedies, its cowardice and glory, its weaknes
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published November 14th 2013)
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A Taste for Intrigue, by Philip Short, is a close examination of the life of Francois Mitterand, a long time French politician who was elected President of France in 1981. Mitterand is often seen as a Machiavellian figure, running a Socialist Party while maintaining close relations and ideological ties to the Right. He was a figure who would be steeped in Socialist rhetoric at one moment, while promoting French austerity the next. He ushered in a 35 work week for France, raised minimum wages, in ...more
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This book was given to me as a First Read on Goodreads. I have to admit I know little of French history and modern French politics. I am a regular reader of the NYT and The Washington Post so I knew of Mitterrand and French politics when he was elected to the presidency in the 1980s, but my knowledge was very shallow. I feel I still need more information but this was a big start. The most interesting part of the book was the beginning when Mitterrand is a soldier taken prisoner like most French ...more
Ryan Groesbeck
Jul 02, 2017 Ryan Groesbeck rated it it was amazing
I knew nothing about this man before I picked up this book on a whim from my local library. I'm glad I did -- such a fascinating bundle of contrasts and contradictions. I think the best biographies make their subjects more human, showing us a person's flaws as well as the things that made them great. The author does a great job here of that, balancing Mitterand's knack for political maneuvering and eye for the main chance with his arrogance / intellectual elitism and tendency to avoid dealing wi ...more
Nov 13, 2014 Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A look at a complicated man Pretty much all I knew about this guy was that he was a President of France when I was very young and that both his "official" family and "second" family were photographed at his funeral mourning together.
Short takes us though the life and times of Francois Mitterand, whose influence echoes down through France today. I was amused to see that as a child he gained a love of books from his mother, and could lose himself very easily in one (and perhaps had to learn how t
Jul 31, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it
When I was in high school, I was going through a period when I was particularly intrigued in my French heritage. As a result, I ended up doing my English term paper my senior year on the man who was president of France at the time: Francois Mitterrand. My teacher thought it was a weird choice, and it probably was, but he did turn out to be an interesting guy ... heck, his mistress lived with him and his wife IN the presidential palace.

This book was an in-depth look at him. I believe it was publi
Jan 13, 2014 Pirate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where to start! Well the beginning would be a good place! A masterpiece and simply the best political biography I have ever read. Superbly written bringing out the mystique of the man and his endless machinations throughout his life. Also learnt a lot especially that far from being a devoted Vichyite he was as usual much more nuanced and very much a resistant to the extent de Gaulle preferred him to his nephew to head a cell in France. A very balanced and fair account doesn't hide his less attra ...more
Dec 29, 2013 M rated it it was amazing
This book was given to me as a First Read on Goodreads.

French politics of World War II and post war is complex and confusing. So is Francois Mitterrand who was in the middle of it all.

Mitterrand was taken prisoner by the Germans when he was a young man. He made several escape attempts and finally succeeded in making it to the South of France. He served in an office of the Vichy government charged with aiding the re-entry of former POWs who had either escaped or been released. He used the connec
Jan 07, 2014 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historians, politicians, foreign policy experts, francophiles
Per FTC regulations: I received this book as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I think the best part of biographies is that you are treated to a life from beginning to end, or at least that's true in the biographies I've read and enjoyed. And, this was no exception. Francois Mitterrand was President of France for my entire school life and the only thing I really knew about him was how to pronounce his name. I'm not sure if this was an oversight or a failing of my school career, but the man and hi
Stuart Finkelkraut II
Nov 17, 2014 Stuart Finkelkraut II rated it it was amazing
Having lived the omnipresence of François Mitterand up close during his interminable Presidency of intrigue & masterful cunning , carried out with the sense of purpose of a maestro sushi chef, I was none the less taken aback by the unending prelude to his singular rule of France.

Phillip Shorts book I found to be utterly compelling, brilliantly researched & delivered with the butlers insight. An detailed look at France’s struggle with itself after the war with François Mitterand somehow a
An interesting read into the life of one of the great European statesmen of the previous century. Philip Short tries his best to create a in-depth account of this most enigmatic creature, but doesn't quite succeed. His banal assumptions about his private life are best overlooked, such as explaining his duplicitous behaviour in politics by a broken heart in love as a young man. The conclusion; Perhaps the Americans have the perfect system allowing for the possibility of two four year presidential ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A veritable tour-de-force from the former BBC Paris correspondent, putting the determination, triumphs, failures and many ambiguities of the mercurial fourth president of France's Fourth Republic into a wider historical context.
Jo Weston
Nov 26, 2013 Jo Weston rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: radio-books
Interesting life he had, lots I had no idea about.
Nari (The Novel World)
Oct 21, 2015 Nari (The Novel World) marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: france-history
The book is due back to the library today and I've run out renewals. I'll have to try and finish it another time.
Jane Massy
Jun 23, 2014 Jane Massy rated it really liked it
Excellent biography of a complex man through a critical period of European history. Readable and enlightening
Aduloju Elizabeth
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Jul 12, 2017
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May 06, 2014
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