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There are many times in the book when one gets a glimpse of the kind of intense emotions that these men, and Leclerc himself, must have felt when they were able to wipe the stain of the catastrophe of 1940 from France's record.

That shame and anger felt by Leclerc must be borne in mind when assessing so many of his actions - whether it is his prickly relationship with his allies, his contempt for ex-Pétainists, his men's looting of Germany in the final stages of the war, or his execution of French SS prisoners.

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I loved Moore's description of these shipless sailors in their tank destroyers, and their brilliant combat record in many beautifully described combat operations.

Eventually, Leclerc comes to love and appreciate them too, and gives them back their red lanyards.

But for his early death, many Frenchmen believe Leclerc would have been their greatest figure to emerge from World War II.

De Gaulle himself admitted to his son-in-law that he gave up smoking when Leclerc died, in order to retain his health in case France needed him, because Leclerc was no longer there.

While being partly successful in the south and Cambodia, Leclerc soon discovered that the Viet Minh were harder to dislodge in the North, and that Ho Chi Minh was more than a match for frequently changing postwar French governments.

Recognizing that France had neither the means nor the will to recover control, Leclerc advised his government to "negotiate at all costs." This didn't happen, leading to Dien Bien Phu eight years later and thence to US involvement.Why then did he become a Gaullist de premier heure rather than nailing his colours to Pétain's mast?This is only one of the fascinating threads which Moore teases out in this excellent and detailed account of Leclerc's career.His career not only includes the liberation of Paris, for which he is most famous, but the retaking of Strasbourg and the reduction of the Colmar Pocket.Helping to spearhead the advance into Germany itself, Leclerc s armor comprised a rock upon which American units could rely, and its waving the tricolor during the Allied counter-invasion went far toward retrieving French prestige in the war.With a fast-paced narrative covering combat at all levels of command and a foreword by Martin Windrow, author of The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam, Free France's Lion will make fascinating reading for any serious student of the full scope of World War II. It is highly entertaining and helps bring to light apart of World War II that many readers know little about French Africa.

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