Alternate History

Le Client (novel) (Napoleon's World)

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Le Client is a 1970 French legal thriller written by journalist and author Pierre Bestat, based on his interviews with various members of the Guttendorp Commission for the 25th anniversary of the hearings in 1969. The novel specifically revolved around the true story of young, inexperienced defense attorney Francois Aroscard and his overwhelming assignment to defend alleged (and later, convicted) war criminal Charles de Gaulle, although the novel was written as a thriller, combining certain real-world figures and embellishing the proceedings to make a more compelling read.

It was an international bestseller and was at the top of both American and French bestseller lists for most of late 1970 and early 1971, called the first "Christmas bestseller," helping usher in that tradition. It was the most successful novel by a contemporary French author in the history of the American publishing industry, an impressive feat as it was published at the heighth of Cold War tensions, the St. Lawrence River Standoff having occurred just a year and a half prior to its US release in December of 1970. In 1999, literary critic James Henry Westley called it the best novel of the 1970's and the best thriller of the 20th century.

It has been reproduced numerous times - as a 1975 American miniseries, a 1988 French feature film and as a 2008 American feature film.

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