A Man Who Gave An Eulogy Praising a Recently Deceased Man Had Been Dead For Decades

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Occasionally, some book reviews are funny enough to merit a brief mention. The following opening paragraph appeared in a book review of “France: A Modern History From the Revolution to the War With Terror By Jonathan Fenby.”

Oddly, Philippe Pétain, who led the French government that collaborated with the Nazis in World War II, made a statement for the official obituary of the resistance leader and president Charles de Gaulle. Pétain’s assessment that de Gaulle, while alive, had been “an incomparable officer in all respects” is true enough. What makes it odd is that by the time de Gaulle died in 1970, Pétain had been dead for decades.

It is only later in this NY Times review that the reader finds out that “the obituary appeared in error in 1916. De Gaulle — bayoneted, gassed and captured during Germany’s relentless attack on Verdun — was assumed to be among the hundreds of thousands dead.”

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