Newsweeks Past: France's 'Return to Greatness'

Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gualle addresses an audience as "Europe's self-appointed spokesman". Archive

In 1964, with the Algiers conflict finally behind him, and the future of France looking distinctly rosy, Charles de Gaulle was the subject of an enthusiastic Newsweek special issue that extolled the French leader's expertise at managing the economy, his savvy political maneuvering and his suitability for the role of "Europe's self-appointed spokesman."

"France today is light years away from Europe's 'Sick Man' of the late '40s and early '50s, when near-bankruptcy and toppling governments seemed to go hand in hand," the report said.

"Throughout his five years in office, de Gaulle has ruled like a benevolent despot. He is the 20th century's greatest, and perhaps only true, disciple of Machiavelli . . . To his ministers, he acts like a stern schoolmaster, disciplining a bunch of disorderly pupils. On foreign policy, he answers to no one; any minister who dares to question his decisions is inviting a glacial stare."