Maurice Thorez (1900-1964) was a major figure in the history of twentieth-century France and European Communism. During more than three decades as Secretary-General of the French Communist Party, the PCF - Parti communiste francais - it became France's largest political party and one of the most important communist parties in the Western world. This book, based on a wealth of original source material, is the only biography of Thorez available in English and provides a unique insight into this extraordinary man, at once firebrand and party apparatchik. John Bulaitis dissects the personality of Thorez and shows how his political life intersected with many key events in French and European history and demonstrates how his politics were conditioned by a tension between his identity with French nationalism, his commitment to the working-class movement and his devotion to the Soviet Union. Thorez was a frequent visitor to Moscow and remained a loyal and trusted servant of Stalin throughout his life.Bulaitis explains how Thorez came to be involved in the Communist party and documents his rapid rise to the leadership - a rise that took place in parallel with Stalin's consolidation of power in the Soviet Union.
He highlights the development of Thorez's 'Popular Front' strategy to confront fascism and his reaction to the controversial Stalin-Hitler pact in 1939. Finally, he considers Thorez's life and work as someone who aspired to the role of statesman, his leadership skills and the development of a 'personality cult' which contributed to the shaping of his legacy. Part of the acclaimed Communist Lives series, this book will be invaluable reading for historians of communism and anyone interested in modern French and European history.