CHICAGO: French Resistance fighter, Ravensbrück concentration camp survivor and life-long humanitarian activist, Geneviève de Gaulle was a symbol of strength and an inspiration during an era of unthinkable inhumanity to man. Today, her uncle Charles’s name remains inseparable from World War II and Cold War era history, but Geneviève’s is largely unknown outside of France.
Based on interviews with family members, former associates, prominent historians and never-before-seen papers written by de Gaulle herself, THE GENERAL’S NIECE: The Little-Known de Gaulle Who Fought to Free Occupied France (Chicago Review Press; June 1, 2017) by Paige Bowers is the first English-language biography of Geneviève, the niece, confidante and daughter-figure of Charles de Gaulle.
Bowers leads readers through the remarkable life of this young woman who risked death to become one of the most devoted foot soldiers of the French Resistance. Beginning with small acts of defiance, she eventually ferried arms and false transit letters to fellow résistants and distributed the nation’s largest underground newspaper, until she was finally arrested and sent to the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp. The young de Gaulle witnessed horrors there that could have broken her spirit, but instead she drew strength from her fellow female prisoners.
Those bonds of friendship are what ultimately inspired her many remaining years of activism on others’ behalf. THE GENERAL’S NIECE also details these later years of de Gaulle’s life, during which she continued to stand up for what was humane and just, participating in campaigns to help France’s neediest citizens and to force the Germans to pay restitution to a group of Polish women on whom the Nazis had performed crippling experiments at Ravensbrück. As beautifully illustrated in THE GENERAL’S NIECE, Geneviève de Gaulle remains a true inspiration today for the French people—and humanitarians and women everywhere.
About the Author:
Paige Bowers is a news and features writer whose work has appeared in TIME, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, People, Allure and Glamour, among other outlets. A lifelong Francophile, she earned a master’s degree in modern European history in 2012 and teaches continuing education classes at Louisiana State University about French history and culture. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.