Georges Clemenceau

by David Robin Watson

The Anglo-Saxon view of Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) is based on John Maynard Keynes’ misjudged caricature, that he imposed on Germany a treaty that was harsh, oppressive and unworkable. Contrarily, the views of the French critics was that he had been too lenient, leaving Germany in a position to challenge the treaty. In fact the treaty could have been maintained. The failure was not in the terms of the treaty but in the subsequent failure to insist on its continued implementation in the face of mounting German resistance. This biography looks at Clemenceau’s background and his place in French politics; his negotiations with Lloyd George and his role in the negotiations of the treaties with Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. Examined too is his defence of the Treaty of Versailles in the French Parliament and the subsequent failure of the United States to ratify the treaty.

DAVID ROBIN WATSON was senior lecturer in History at theUniversity of Dundee for many years until his retirement. Afterwriting a major biography of Clemenceau more than thirty yearsago, he continued to research and write upon his life and onrelated topics in French and European history. His principalpublications are The treaty of Versailles in N Waites (ed.),Troubled Neighbours (1971), Clemenceau, A Political Biography(1974), France, Europe and the World since 1880 in J McMillan(ed.), The Oxford History of Modern France (2003). He has alsopublished a large number of articles in academic periodicalsand in collective works including Locarno Revisited, EuropeanDiplomacy 1920-29 (2004).

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