Jonathan Fenby

Jonathan Fenby is the author of ThePenguin History of Modern China and Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost.

Dastardly Poltroons: Madame Chiang Kai-shek

Jonathan Fenby, 21 October 2010

Madame Chiang was an unexpected presence at the Cairo Conference in November 1943, the only World War Two summit at which China was represented. Sitting at the conference table in a black satin dress with a chrysanthemum pattern and split skirt, black tulle bows in her hair and shoes decorated with big brass nails, she made a considerable impact. Nobody knew quite what her role was, but she...

Les gages de la peur

Jonathan Fenby, 3 August 1995

Jean-Marie Le Pen was late, as he often is. But it was not his fault, he explained to the capacity audience who had paid 40 francs each to hear him in a huge, cheerless exhibition hall outside Toulouse. His plane had been delayed and the pilot – ‘a good Frenchman’ – had told him it was because air traffic control for France was run from a centre at Maastricht. That was what you got, Le Pen thought, when you handed control of your skies to Eurocrats. At Maastricht, he had learned from the pilot, the French air traffic controllers had been chased from their jobs by the Dutch, the Germans and the British, who were now holding up French planes to give their own national airlines an unfair advantage. It was another anti-French plot, and it explained why the hero of the National Front, the defender of the purity of France, the burly rabble-rouser who holds audiences spellbound as he speaks without notes for two hours or more, had kept the good people of the South-West waiting to hear him this spring evening.

Made in Algiers: De Gaulle

Jeremy Harding, 4 November 2010

At the military academy in Saint-Cyr, which he entered in 1908, Charles de Gaulle was known as ‘the great asparagus’. But aside from the fact that he stood six feet four in his socks...

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Chiang Kai-shek celebrated his 50th birthday (by the Chinese way of counting) in October 1936. To mark the occasion, every schoolchild in the country – or in those parts not already...

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Blanc-Black-Beur: The trouble with France

Anand Menon, 12 November 1998

There is a general impression, both inside the country and abroad, that France is floundering in the face of its many political, social and economic problems – which is why winning the...

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