With Friends Like These
Entangled Nationalisms in the Canada-Quebec-France Triangle, 1944-1970
University of British Columbia Press 2012
In 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle cried out “Vive le Quebec libre!” from the balcony of Montreal’s City Hall. The controversial moment became a myth almost instantly. The four words De Gaulle uttered remain emblematic of an extremely important moment in the histories of Quebec and Canada. Illustrative of the General’s penchant for political provocation and spectacle, they also hold a special place in his dramatic biography.
David Meren‘s With Friends Like These: Entangled Nationalisms in the Canada-Quebec-France Triangle, 1944-1970(University of British Columbia Press, 2012), is anchored by President de Gaulle’s famous cri du balcon. Situating the incident within the broader context of a complex “triangle” of relations between Canada, Quebec, and France, the book deepens our understanding of what De Gaulle said and the meanings his exclamation have carried since. At the same time, the book develops a much broader and richer historical picture of the relationship between these three societies, and their nationalisms, from the end of the Second World War to the end of the 1960s.
With Friends Like These is an exciting example of an international history that interweaves the analysis of diplomacy, economic interests, and societal and cultural change over two and half decades. In our conversation, David and I discussed his methodology and the challenges of thinking together these three national communities within a rapidly shifting global context during the period. We also had a chance to talk about some of the legacies of the history of the Canada-Quebec-France triangle for contemporary political and cultural identities and exchanges.