Max Gallo 1932–
(Has also written under pseudonym Max Laugham) French novelist and historian.
The following entry provides an overview of Gallo's career through 1995.
A popular author of historical fiction and nonfiction, Gallo is praised for his detailed and accessible accounts of modern historical events and biographies of European leaders. La nuit des longs couteaux (1970; The Night of Long Knives), a nonfiction work that examines Adolf Hitler's 1934 assassination of SA leader Ernst Röhm and about one hundred other political opponents within the Nazi party, ably demonstrates his command of complex historical data and his readable journalistic style.
Born in Nice, France, Gallo was educated at the Lycée du Parc Imperial and at the Faculté des lettres et institut d'études politique of Paris, earning doctorates in contemporary history and letters. While teaching at the Lycée du Parc between 1960 and 1965, Gallo wrote his acclaimed L'Italie de Mussolini (1964; Mussolini's Italy), after which he became a journalist, television writer, and novelist. A socialist activist during the 1970s and 1980s, Gallo was named to various posts in the French government under François Mitterand.
Most of Gallo's works, fiction and nonfiction alike, focus on contemporary historical themes and people. Mussolini's Italy, for example, incorporates extensive historical documentation in a biographical exploration of the complex character of Benito Mussolini—tracing the rise and fall of Italy's Fascist dictator during World War II. Maximilien Robespierre (1968; Robespierre the Incorruptible) examines the character of Robespierre, one of the principle agents of the French Revolution. Subtitled "A Psychobiography," this work incorporates detailed historical information and psychological theory to construct a portrait of Robespierre, showing him to be a lonely man struggling with an inner need for recognition and dignity. In Histoire de l'Espagne franquiste (1969; Spain under Franco), Gallo examines the life and political career of General Francisco Franco of Spain. Working from extensive primary documentation, Gallo follows Franco's rise to power and explores his dictatorial governing style. Gallo's first novel, Le cortège des vainqueurs (1972; With the Victors) also takes place in Italy during World War II. The story follows the wartime career of Lieutenant Marco Naldi, who is a press secretary for Mussolini's son-in-law. Motivated by his desire to maintain the values and traditions of his aristocratic Italian upbringing, Naldi lives a sexually promiscuous life in and around some of the major figures and political events that have changed the course of western civilization in the twentieth century. Following the publication of I manifestinella storia e nel costume (1973; The Poster in History), which traces the history of western poster art from 1789 to 1970, Gallo wrote the La baie des anges novel trilogy (1975–1976) and the two-novel sequence Les hommes naissant tous le même jour: Aurore (1978) and Les hommes naissant tous le même jour: Crepuscule (1979). These novels, according to the author, were designed as imaginative explorations of twentieth-century western society and its people. The plots of the two novels are interconnected, following the same seven people of varying socio-economic backgrounds over a period of forty years. As the stories unfold across Europe, the United States, and South America, the characters grow up and mature amid some of the most decisive events of the twentieth-century. Le regard des femmes (1991) tells the story of Lisa and Philippe's disintegrating marriage against the backdrop of contemporary French society. In the novel La fontaine des innocents (1992), Anne-Marie Bermont, a divorced career woman, encounters Jonas, a street hoodlum. As the plot unfolds, the lives of Jonas, Anne-Marie, and the tenants of Anne-Marie's Paris apartment building begin to intersect. Eventually, all of the characters get an opportunity to tell their own troubled stories about how they manage to survive in the disintegrating Parisian society of the late twentieth century. Although Gallo's L'Amour au temps des solitudes (1993) is set in present-day France, the plot ranges from Nice to Antibes, Italy, and to war-torn Yugoslavia. An aging magazine director, Catherine Vance, and members of her family recall several tragic events in their lives. In order to avoid the painful memories, family members devote themselves to their careers. For example, Catherine is totally occupied with managing her magazine. Eventually, Catherine's daughter Jeanne and Jeanne's husband Vincent are able to rise above their painful pasts and experience a sense of hope and self-acceptance, which is sparked by the rescue of a small child from a burning building in war-torn Croatia.
Most critics have applauded Gallo's command of contemporary western history in both his nonfiction and fictional works. These critics have also noted his straightforward and conversational journalistic style, and have compared his plot structures and story development with the works of Honore de Balzac. While some commentators have faulted his use of flash backs and flash forwards in such nonfictional works as The Night of Long Knives, other critics, such as Joseph Lee, have contended that Gallo knows how to turn history into "a rattling good yarn." Although some critics have pointed out occasional historical inaccuracies in Spain under Franco and have accused Gallo of relying too heavily on personal opinion to flesh out his portraits of Robespierre and Mussolini, other commentators have suggested that his fictional characters are well drawn, such as Marco Naldi in With the Victors and Anne-Marie Bermont of La fontaine des innocents. Finally, because he is able to present contemporary western history in an engaging manner, commentators have generally agreed that Gallo's nonfiction and fictional works contribute to a deeper understanding of the complexities of the people and history of the twentieth-century.
L'Italie de Mussolini: Vingt ans d'ere fasciste [Mussolini's Italy: Twenty Years of the Fascist Era] (nonfiction) 1964
La grand peur de 1989 [as Max Laugham] (nonfiction) 1966
L'affaire d'Ethiopie (nonfiction) 1967
Gauchisme, réformisme et révolution (nonfiction) 1968
Maximilien Robespierre, histoire d'une solitude [Robespierre the Incorruptible: A Psychobiography] (non-fiction) 1968
Histoire de l'Espagne franquiste [Spain under Franco] (nonfiction) 1969
La nuit des longs couteaux: 30 juin 1934 [The Night of Long Knives] (nonfiction) 1970
Au nom tous les miens [For Those I Loved] (nonfiction) 1971
Le cortège des vainqueurs [With the Victors] (novel) 1972
La Mafia, mythes et réalitiés (nonfiction) 1972
I manifestinella storia e nel costume [The Poster in History] (nonfiction) 1973
L'affiche miroir de l'historie [with Regis Delnay] (nonfiction) 1973
Demain l'Espagne [Dialogues on Spain] (nonfiction) 1974
L'oiseau de origines (novel) 1974
La baie des anges, Volume I (novel) 1975
La baie des anges: Le palais des fêtes, Volume II (novel) 1976
La baie des anges: La promenade de des Anglais, Volume III (novel) 1976
Santiago Carillo (nonfiction) 1976
Le pouvoir à vif, despotisme, démocratie et révolution, que sont les siécle pour la mer (novel)...
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SOURCE: A review of Robespierre the Incorruptible: A Psychobiography, in Commonweal, Vol. XCVI, No. 9, May 5, 1972, pp. 219-20.
[In the following review, Reid favorably assesses Robespierre the Incorruptible, contending that it is a laudable study of the psychological aspects of Robespierre's character.]
The French Revolution was the first major political upheaval in the entire history of the Western nations to deserve the revolutionary epithet. This distinction says more about the relative inconsequence of centuries of successive and diverse political change and development than it does about the depth and seriousness of the events of 1789 and the years which followed. In desperation, partially at least, historians have examined and analyzed the Revolution in its broadest sweep and most far-reaching implications as well as in its minutest and frequently most trivial details. Burke and deMaistre, no less than Marx and Michelet, bestowed on the largely uninformed reading public accounts of what happened and why, already prefabricated according to selective interpretative canons. More perhaps than any other episode in modern times, the Revolution itself, what in fact took place, its causes and consequences, has scarcely been allowed room in the pages of its chroniclers and critics. The moral is devastatingly clear, however reluctant historians have been to own it as integral to their craft....
(The entire section is 959 words.)
SOURCE: A review of The Night of Long Knives, in Best Sellers, Vol. 32, No. 9, August 1, 1972, pp. 213-14.
[In the following favorable review of The Night of Long Knives, O'Brien discusses Gallo's use of historical documentation as a basis for understanding why Hitler liquidated several powerful allies.]
"The Führer himself is law and justice." It must be true that the will of the sovereign has the force of law, even if the sovereign is tyrant, or madman, or both. The above quotation is part of the writings of the Nazi jurist, Karl Schmitt, in justification of the wave of murder and assassination by which Hitler broke the power of the SA, Sturmabteilung, "Brown Shirts," People's Militia, or whatever one may care to call them. The action took place over the week end of June 30, and July 1 and 2, 1934.
In addition to … [The Night of Long Knives], Max Gallo is author of Robespierre, the Incorruptible. Long Knives was first published in France, and this edition is a translation from the French by Lily Emmet. It is characterized by the author as a historical narrative, source material for it being the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, trial documents, newspapers, memoirs, historical studies, interviews, and trips to the scenes of the events.
The Brown Shirts were the bully boys who brought Hitler to power by their violent...
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SOURCE: "Nazi History: The Haphazard Purge," in Christian Science Monitor, August 23, 1972, p. 11.
[Harsch was a journalist, news correspondent, and author of books on contemporary world politics. In the following favorable review of The Night of Long Knives, he comments on Gallo's literary style and his utilization of the historical record.]
Reporters called it "the night of the long knives." It happened in Germany on the night of June 29-30 in 1934 when Adolph Hitler allowed his fascist revolution to devour its own original children.
The devouring was a savage, ruthless, vindictive affair. What was conceived of as a means of purging the Nazi movement of some of its embarrassing elements ended in a careless butchery of anyone on the purge list of one or another of the plotters. Many were killed because they knew too much. One victim was a man who had dared to suggest changes in the text of Hitler's Mein Kampf. Some were killed because of mistaken identity. A musician named Schmidt was totally innocent of any connection with Nazism in any form—the Blackshirted execution squad had picked the wrong address from the telephone book.
The records are not complete; to this day no one knows exactly how many died on that dreadful night. The mystery to outsiders was whether there actually had been a plot among the leaders of the Sturmabteilung to kill Hitler and...
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SOURCE: "Joseph Lee on Interpretations of Hitler, the Man," in The Spectator, Vol. 230, No. 7557, April 28, 1973, pp. 523-24.
[In the following excerpt of a review of several books on Hitler, Lee examines The Night of Long Knives, focusing on its literary style and historical credibility.]
Hitler is much the most fascinating politician of twentieth-century Europe. Stalin, with whom he is frequently compared, faced far fewer problems. Stalin never had to worry about his public. They were already prisoners of a system which Stalin had merely to capture, not to create. Hitler, on the other hand, had to woo a mass electorate, and intrigue for power from outside rather than inside the existing political elite. Once in office, Hitler found the army still a potential obstacle to his plans. Stalin felt sufficiently secure to exterminate his assumed enemies in the officer corps. Hitler had to manipulate his. Hitler set an incredible pace. No politician has ever imposed so many deadlines on himself. It was his constant seizing of initiatives which largely defined the range of options confronting his contemporaries. After making the 'thirties indubitably his decade, he proved an inspiring war leader. The German performance between 1939 and 1945 is the most remarkable in the annals of war, even more remarkable for the resolution displayed in the face of impending defeat than for the stunning early victories....
(The entire section is 1299 words.)
SOURCE: A review of The Night of Long Knives, in The Times Literary Supplement, No. 3723, July 13, 1973, p. 817.
[The following is a mixed review of The Night of Long Knives.]
The dramatic story of Hitler's purge of the SA on the night of June 29-30, 1934 is told by Max Gallo [in The Night of Long Knives] in a detailed "scenario in which time shifts both forward and backward, the past flowing into the present, the present moment containing the past", in an attempt "to recreate events not only in terms of general causes and political mechanisms, but also by evoking the attitudes, thoughts and faces of the various actors and … the skies and landscapes which set the scene". His sources are given only in general terms and it is difficult to assess what is vouched for and what imagined in this reconstruction. His presentation is effective, and the events of the June and July days of 1934, when not only Roehm and the other SA leaders but also Schleicher and a number of miscellaneous enemies of the SS were liquidated, are shown in the perspective of Hitler's Deutschland pact with the Reichswehr and his subsequent assumption a few weeks later of complete control of the Reich as Hindenburg's successor Head of State. The plates include a number of unusual photographs which illustrate the story excellently, and the translation is smooth, though the historic present which is so convincing in...
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SOURCE: "The Caudillo: A Strategy for Survival," in The Times Literary Supplement, No. 3739, November 2, 1973, p. 1336.
[In the following review, the critic favorably assesses Spain under Franco, applauding its detailed history of Francisco Franco's rise to power but faulting its examination of the inner workings of the Franco government.]
General Franco has long enjoyed favourable publicity in England. During the Spanish Civil War he was described by conservative and Catholic commentators as a crusader against barbarism, a defender of Western Civilization. In 1937, Douglas Jerrold wrote in his Georgian Adventure that Franco was "a supremely good man, a hero possibly; possibly a saint". Virtually the only dissenting voice was that of the Left Book Club, and with its demise the field was left to a new wave of admirers. These were the Cold War mongers who lavished praise on the new-found "sentinel of the West". Of late, there has been a trend towards appreciative biographies of Franco, the elder statesman, guiding Spain's ship of state on its course of order and prosperity. This view, to the ostentatious delight of Francoist propagandists who have courted foreign intellectuals, is becoming an orthodoxy in Anglo-Saxon circles—following from that other orthodoxy which sees Franco's rising in 1936 as an inevitable but reluctant response to left-wing provocation (see TLS, March 26, 1971...
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SOURCE: A review of Spain under Franco, in Best Sellers, Vol. 33, No. 21, February 1, 1974, pp. 482-83.
[Colby was an educator, journalist, and author of books about contemporary world politics. In the following review of Spain under Franco, he comments on Gallo's journalistic style and his mixing of historical fact with personal opinion.]
Having recently published a detailed and perceptive volume by this author on Italy under Mussolini, Dutton now comes along with a translation from the French of the same author's history of the Spanish under Franco. (The translation [of Spain under Franco] by Jean Stewart is done with all the ease of original writing, with little trace of alien idiom.) Like the work of any master of political studies, and lecturer on them, this book is rich in detail of trends, forces, and influences, with occasional (but not too many) statistics from other fields—agriculture, industry, and education. It touches on the origin of the Opus Dei and upon its intrusion into public affairs.
The tale starts with the appalling conditions in Spain before the Civil War, treats military events always with their political emphasis, and goes right through the rise of Franco, his increase in personal appeal, his leanings on "repression and restriction," his use of the army "to maintain order," his "life and death struggle" to primacy. Then there was the...
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SOURCE: A review of The Night of Long Knives, in American Political Science Review, Vol. LXVIII, No. 1, March, 1974, pp. 300-01.
[In the following review, Latour states that despite some faults, The Night of Long Knives "is a fine tale of horror for the general reader."]
The Night of Long Knives by Max Gallo chronicles the liquidation of Ernst Röhm and associates, the destruction of the SA as an element of revolutionary political power in the Nazi state, and the gangland slaying of uncounted victims of political or personal vendettas carried out with great verve on June 29-30, 1934 by men then grasping for ascendancy in Hitler's regime…. Mr. Gallo, a French journalist, writes fluently, often grippingly about what Otto Strasser has called "the German St. Bartholomew's," with minimal recourse to research in depth and no scholarly apparatus at all.
As popular history, Mr. Gallo offers a rousing suspense story, featuring as chief plotters Himmler, Heydrich, and Goering, busily manufacturing damning evidence against former comrades-in-arms, and joining an uneasy alliance with military, industrial and conservative political leaders fearful of the SA's radical threat to the Reichswehr and to the financial and industrial establishment. Pushed by these factions, himself in an agony of indecision, Hitler forces himself to make a move which, for a...
(The entire section is 398 words.)
SOURCE: "The Dream of Empire, Again," in The Nation, New York, Vol. 218, No. 14, April 6, 1974, pp. 441-43.
[In the following review, Frohlich applauds Gallo's command of contemporary history in Mussolini's Italy.]
When on June 13, 1921, Mussolini, as deputy of the young Fascist Party, rose in the Italian Parliament and declared, "We deny that the history of mankind can be explained by economic determinism," he repudiated his Socialist past and opened the way for his new role. Italy with its colorful history of varied forms of small duchies and city republics had never lacked swashbuckling condottieri, and Professor Gallo in his book [Mussolini's Italy] explains how a people can fall prey to a system seemingly incompatible with its temperament. And here is the rub: existing forces, not the temperament of a people, determine its political path.
Professor Gallo follows Mussolini's oblique career from his youth to the pinnacle of his power during the Dollfuss crisis in Austria, and thereafter to his ignominious death. It is most strange that his end is so much like that of another usurper of Roman power—Cola di Rienzi.
Filippo Turiati and Anna Kulishova founded a periodical, Critica Sociale, in 1891. The two had a strong influence on Mussolini and Gallo cites an interesting observation of Kulishova which may be a clue to Mussolini's apostasy from...
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SOURCE: A review of Spain under Franco, in America, Vol. 130, No. 19, May 18, 1974, pp. 403-04.
[Sánchez is an educator and author of books about Spanish politics and religion. In the following favorable review of Spain under Franco, he applauds Gallo's writing style and use of historical detail while faulting his one-sided view of Francisco Franco.]
At age 81, Francisco Franco has managed to stay in absolute power in Spain for 35 years, longer than any Spanish executive since Philip V in the early 18th century. He has controlled one of the most politically volatile people in Europe with threats and blandishments, but he has managed to stay on top.
How has he done this? Arthur Whittaker tells the marvelous story that on Franco's desk there are two stacks of paper, one labeled "problems that time will solve," and the other "problems that time has solved." The Caudillo's chief occupation, the story goes, is transferring papers from the first stack to the second. The French historian Max Gallo [in his Spain under Franco] sees Franco as having "the ability to change one's line in order to preserve what is essential—power."
Gallo's study is well-written, full of important statistics and facts, chronologically well-developed and comprehensive. But Gallo is so one-sidedly anti-Franco that his interpretation inevitably suffers, and at times the...
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SOURCE: "Demon into Clown," in Books and Bookmen, Vol. 19, No. 10, July 1974, p. 46.
[Lustgarten is a freelance writer and broadcaster. In the following review of Mussolini's Italy, he favorably assesses Gallo's writing style, historical competence, and biographical skill.]
Was Mussolini a Fascist? Or a Socialist? Or an Anarchist? In fits and starts, by twists and turns, all three. That, at any rate, would appear from the bare record of his political acts, his formal declarations. But [in Mussolini's Italy] Max Gallo's vivid portrait is that of a character less complex, and—in one sense—more consistent. He depicts Mussolini as an opportunist; motivated by ambition, uninhibited by doctrine, pursuing any path and exploiting any instrument which—in his own opinion—at any particular moment might best serve his undeviating purpose. 'Insanely individual,' the author says, 'he was primarily concerned with power, and for himself'.
This judgement is borne out at every stage in Mussolini's life of glory, violence, perfidy, and farce. It was opportunism that made him oppose the war with Turkey over Libya in 1911; that made him support the Red Week strikers in 1914; that made him—as editor of Avanti—demand neutrality on the eve of World War One, and that made him—as editor of il Popolo—demand intervention less than four months later. It was opportunism...
(The entire section is 1126 words.)
SOURCE: A review of Mussolini's Italy, in The Times Literary Supplement, No. 3778, August 2, 1974, p. 828.
[In the following review, the critic favorably comments on Mussolini's Italy, contending that it is good "popular" history.]
Max Gallo's book [Mussolini's Italy] does not claim to offer a distinctive interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism; it relies almost completely on secondary sources. M Gallo has written an unashamedly "popular" history, and his book should be judged in those terms. It is, in effect, a series of dramatic set-pieces linked by narrative; it ranges from Mussolini's errant and itinerant youth and early manhood, through the March on Rome, the Matteotti affair, the Ethiopian conquest and the Second World War, to the final collapse of Fascism and the humiliation of the dictator's corpse in a Milan garage.
Il Duce himself monopolizes the centre of M Gallo's stage, and the author's fascination with the "human angle" often reduces the impact of what was undoubtedly a turbulent life: "He was Il Duce whom Chamberlain and Hitler had taken by the hand, whom the Pope had received; he was Il Duce, the peer of the greatest, with the kings, the marshals, the heads of states round him, and the crowd like a sea beneath the balcony of Palazzo Venezia; and he was a hunted man in a corner of a foreign truck…." They don't write scenarios like that any more....
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SOURCE: A review of With the Victors, in Publishers Weekly, Vol. 206, No. 8, August 19, 1974, p. 74.
[In the following review, the critic favorably assesses With the Victors.]
In this sensitive account, history and conjecture are imaginatively interwoven in the story of Marco Naldi, son of an Italian landowner. [With the Victors] begins in the fall of 1917 at the time of the Italian defeat at Caporetto. Marco's father is killed in the war and he is gruffly befriended by Ferri, one of his father's contemporaries, who later becomes a prominent Fascist. Marco enlists in the army in his father's place and also makes friends with Alatri, a Communist. In the Post World War I Italian political upheaval Marco feels he should take his place with the aristocracy, which now means Fascism, especially when he is mocked and insulted by the peasants for his wartime bravery. Yet he also feels bound by the principles of noblesse oblige which characterized his father, at least in part. And Marco is also prone to the fears and weaknesses of the flesh. Naturally, torment follows in this interesting perspective on the important figures and events of the Mussolini era. By the author of Spain under Franco.
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SOURCE: A review of With the Victors, in The New York Times Book Review, October 6, 1974, p. 40.
[In the following unfavorable review, the critic assesses Gallo's literary style and development of characters in With the Victors.]
[In With the Victors] Max Gallo's Marco Naldi is one of those superheroes, like Robert Briffault's Julien Bern or Upton Sinclair's Lanny Budd, who leads a panoramic life on the stage of history. He meets world leaders in person, and makes the scene of big political happenings. Naldi starts as a lieutenant in the Arditi after Caporetto, and joins the fascist movement when the war is over. He becomes an aide to Mussolini's son-in-law, Count Ciano, specializing in press relations. These include Merry Groves, of The New York Times ("a very dark young woman with short hair curling over her forehead and a face full of laughter"). Also Maud Kaufman, a Trotskyite journalist married to a Stalinist, by whom Naldi has a son. And Elizabeth Loubet, an undercover media maid, whom our hero finally marries. Meanwhile, Naldi is on the spot wherever big things are happening from Abyssinia to the Russian front.
What is wrong with The Victors? Well, rhetorical questions, for one thing. Marco asks too damn many of them, like:
Why was there only the connivance of habit between us, after a few drinks in the middle of...
(The entire section is 290 words.)
SOURCE: A review of The Poster in History, in Saturday Review, Vol. 2, No. 6, November 30, 1974, pp. 20-2, 24-5.
[Hollander is a lecturer in fine arts and author of the book Moving Pictures (1989). In the following excerpt, she reviews The Poster in History, contending that the book is a "sloppy treatment" of the subject.]
Poster art has a separate history, although, as we have seen, serious artists have lent their talents to the genre. The Poster in History, by Max Gallo …, is authored by a French historian of journalistic, rather than scholarly, accomplishments who has no art-historical background to speak of. The posters illustrating the book date from 1789 to 1970; they are divided into sections corresponding to historical periods that represent successive eras of social change in which poster art reflected prevailing attitudes. The text, translated from the French, describes this process but omits any stylistic commentary on the posters, which is a pity, since the style is an integral part of the poster's message. Some early ones are even obviously incorrectly dated, in view of the evidence of dress and other details in them. These errors are perhaps supposed to be redressed by the inclusion of a diffuse essay by Carlo Arturo Quintavalle on the development of poster art, illustrated mainly by small black-and-white examples of still other posters. This book is a somewhat...
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SOURCE: A review of Le cortège des vainqueurs, in French Review, Vol. XLVIII, No. 3, February, 1975, pp. 664-65.
[In the following review of Le cortège des vainqueurs, Crosby praises the book's detailed historical setting and literary style but faults the poor character development.]
Sealed off by time from any further physical or moral actions of significance, an old man turns toward the past and to an accumulated sum of events whose finality is an accusing silence. In writing his life for his son Philippe, Marco Naldi is attempting to reach a young man he has never known and, at the same time, to release his spent life from the opacity of appearances.
The bulk of these fictional memoirs spans the rise and defeat of Fascism and Naldi's involvement with its leaders from 1917 to 1945. Naldi's years of moral oscillation are framed by two terms of duty as a soldier. From World War I and his first battle with the Italian army on the Pavie at age seventeen to a decisive moment when, during the long trek back from Russia, he repudiates the double standard in his life, Naldi is caught up in myths: the myth of heritage, of class, and, above all, the myth of history as destiny. Though he eventually sees these forces as meaningless constructs of words without substance, Naldi still allows himself to be swept along by an idealogy he privately refuses.
It is this...
(The entire section is 688 words.)
SOURCE: A review of Les hommes naissent tous le même jour 1: Aurore, in The French Review, Vol. 53, No. 1, October, 1979, pp. 151-52.
[In the following review of Les hommes naissent tous le même jour 1; Aurore, O'Connor favorably assesses the book's literary style and plot but faults the character development.]
Max Gallo is a frequent contributor to the book review section of L'Express, and is well known as an historian of the Fascist years in Europe. Eight long novels written and published in the course of the last six years also make him a remarkably prolific novelist, and a successful one to judge by the regularity with which his books figure among the best sellers in France. Les Hommes naissent tous le même jour, true to form, was on the list for nine weeks during 1978. This is the first of a two-volume sequence; the second volume, Crépuscule, appeared in April 1979. As Gallo says in his foreword, he is continuing the "exploration imaginaire du vingtième siècle" which he undertook with Le Cortège des vainqueurs and the three-volume La Baie des anges. He sees these books as elements in a "fresque romanesque" devoted to this century of progress and upheaval. Each is independent of the others and can be read separately, but they share a common historical background, and in each one finds a minor character from the previous book. Other...
(The entire section is 694 words.)
SOURCE: A review of La fontaine des innocents, in World Literature Today, Vol. 67, No. 3, Summer, 1993, pp. 583-84.
[In the following review of La fontaine des innocents, Cooper favorably assesses its plot, themes, and characters.]
On two levels, both factual and symbolic, the title of Max Gallo's massive new novel [La fontaine des innocents]—his nineteenth—solidly anchors the work in today's Paris, intimately allying the traditional and the new, as it is in the Halles district where the eponymous fountain is located. The very structure and development of Gallo's powerful novel as well as its overall theme are closely linked to the famous Renaissance fountain, well known for its Jean Goujon statues of graceful nymphs, erected on the site of a medieval cemetery by the same name, in pious homage to the Holy Innocents of the New Testament slain by Herod. The time span of the novel is two years, from late 1989 to early 1991, with many hang-ups from a recent past. As in other novels by the historian Gallo, contemporary history and fiction convincingly intermingle.
The factual element of the title is present from the start, as the novel opens near the Forum des Halles with two of the main characters from opposite sides of society who are to play a major role throughout the novel and around whom everything revolves. Anne-Marie Bermont, a divorcee and a career woman in...
(The entire section is 859 words.)
SOURCE: A review of L'amour au temps des solitudes, in World Literature Today, Vol. 67, No. 4, Autumn, 1993, p. 772.
[In the following favorable review, Cooper comments on the character development and the mixture of history and fiction in L'amour au temps des solitudes.]
Over the last three decades Max Gallo has enjoyed a nonstop literary career, in both fiction and nonfiction, with some fifty titles to his credit, including best sellers and Livre de Poche reissues. As in his preceding novel, La Fontaine des Innocents … L'amour au temps des solitudes again intertwines contemporary history and fiction. "Tout y est imaginaire," the author declares. "Et donc tout ce qui est écrit ici peut avoir eu lieu."
Through his central character, the aging career woman Catherine Vance (née Kemsky), the novelist concentrates on the tragic aftermath of earlier dramatic events in individual lives and their long-lasting repercussions on younger family members. Catherine has been traumatized for life by her ordeal during World War II in Nice as a Jewish refugee arrested by the militia in 1942, which she somehow survived. The fact that Catherine is the central character of the novel, and the pivot around whom everything revolves, is emphasized by the author's choice of the illustration on the book's cover: a reproduction of Matisse's Woman by the Window, a solitary figure seated...
(The entire section is 749 words.)
SOURCE: A review of Le regard des femmes, in The French Review, Vol. 67, No. 1, October, 1993, pp. 160-61.
[Kopp is an educator and author of books about French literature. In the following favorable review, he comments on the plot, themes, and literary style of Le regard des femmes.]
Max Gallo appears fascinated by the relationship between the public and private elements which make up human existence. He is capable of introducing the public individual and uncovering the hitherto unknown private facts which explain the public persona, but in the same manner he is capable of introducing the private individual and explaining the public facts not known previously by the reader (or seer). In the end, a persona is formed, one which satisfies the viewpoint of everyone who may be interested in the character in question.
In [Le Regard des femmes,] the "look of women" or perhaps "the way women look at others" forces the "hero," a diplomat and member of the European commission, to define himself as the result of being caught in an amorous conflict. We have already experienced this manner of observing in Robbe-Grillet, the obvious example being La Jalousie, in which we view everything through one pair of eyes and are not always sure of what we see because the seer may be sifting the information. In Le Regard des femmes, the author presents a lengthy passage during which...
(The entire section is 563 words.)
Adams, Phoebe. Review of The Night of Long Knives, by Max Gallo. Atlantic Monthly 230, No. 2 (August 1972): 92.
Favorably assesses The Night of Long Knives.
Gough, Hugh. "Genocide and the Bicentenary: The French Revolution and the Revenge of the Vendée." The Historical Journal 30, No. 4 (December 1987): 977-88.
Reviews Gallo's Lettre ouverte á Maximilien Robespierre sur les nouveaux muscadins and other books, reflecting on the French Revolution in its bicentenary year.
Rosselli, John. "Italian Centaur." The Listener 91, No. 2343 (21 February 1974): 247.
Favorably assesses Mussolini's Italy.
(The entire section is 101 words.)