- Series: Making of the Modern World
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1St Edition edition (May 29, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019280300X
- ISBN-13: 978-0192803009
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.1 x 6.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,396,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940 (Making of the Modern World) 1St Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In his thorough monograph, University of Swansea historian Jackson (The Dark Years) begins with pre-war developments-French military innovations and battle strategy; Germany's plan to invade Belgium and France-before recounting the German breakthrough and defeat of British and French forces in May 1940. The second chapter opens with General Weygand taking command of the French army later that month, then provides background on France's position in Europe before the war, particularly its relations with Great Britain: the failure of attempted British-French-Soviet alliance in early 1939, and the so-called Phony War on the western front September 1939-April 1940. He tracks French attempts to halt the German onslaught and the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, leading to the June 1940 surrender, then cuts back to analyze French internal politics during the 1930s and its effect on French foreign policy. Another chapter gets devoted to the French people circa 1940, including pacifist society following World War I; soldiers' reactions to the German invasion and recollections of the mass exodus of WWI refugees from the advancing Germans are also covered. The final chapters provide a historiography of the campaign itself and the effects of the defeat on France, focusing on the collaborationist Vichy government that followed the defeat, the rise of De Gaulle's movement, and a treatment of how the defeat is viewed today. Designed for the academic rather than the casual reader, this presentation is careful and measured, and seems likely to find its way onto college history syllabi.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Superb, highly accessible revisionist study of Germany's swift defeat of France in 1940 and its wide-ranging implications, then and now.... Should spark discussion among WWII historians and great interest among military history buffs."--Kirkus Reviews
"France's sudden and shocking defeat in May of 1940 was one of the great calamities in the history of Western democracy.... Jackson assesses the social and political, and also the diplomatic, intelligence, and military, context of the catastrophe.... An admirably accessible analytical history of a complex and fraught event."--Atlantic Monthly
"Jackson's book tells in gripping detail the military, human and political story of a few crucial weeks whose ramifications for European relations for decades afterwards were enormous.... More than a military history, this sharply written account is also an elegy for a fading culture in which we all have a stake."--Financial Times
"A brilliant and authoritative book, compellingly written and persuasive in its explanation of one of the most puzzling events in 20th-century history. Impossible to put down.' Richard Evans, Cambridge University'A fine, powerful and very readable book. Jackson brings a freshness and sharpness to the discussion, with the reader being drawn straight into the action and atmosphere."--Robert Gildea, Oxford University
Top customer reviews
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Comparing the French Army in WWI to that of WWII, Jackson's perspective is that the Fall of France was as much a political collapse as a military one. All the usual characters are referenced but the addition of a well articulated political perspective gives the reader an excellent insight into the toxic and unstable political environment of the pre-war era. Ultimately, what he does is to dispel any myths that any one person or thing was responsible. Anyone looking for a single point explanation will be disappointed.
Jackson starts with the military campaign and the reasons why that failed, of which there were many. He then explains the political climate and the brutal infighting which left the Third Republic so fragmented that on the day Guderian crossed the Meuse, France was without a Prime Minister. Finally he looks at the longer term view of the whole affair and its repercussions, up to and including De Gaulle's presidency.
This is not a book for those looking for any serious detail on specific battles, uniforms, weapons or other minutiae. There are plenty of other sources for that so anyone who criticises the book for a lack of detail - he spends little more than 150 pages on a campaign which lasted six weeks - is either being a little unfair or is simply reading the book for the wrong purpose. In fact, Jackson's book gave me something of a thirst for more and I'm on the look out for other books on the subject.
Single theory explanations like, lack of intelligence, paralysis of command, poor strategic thinking (including the Maginot Line), inferior weaponry, a German feint and Nazi super soldiers are all pretty much washed away in what is an excellent treatise on a subject which is, for most people, a poorly understood subject. If it has a fault it is that it is quite broad and in some ways asks more questions than it answers. If that is actually a fault, I have no problem living with it. The questions only encourage me to look deeper. That is a virtual definition of good history and scholarship.
Very worthwhile book for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of what drove France to such a spectacular defeat.
When the war started most people thought it would be standoff lasting several years, just as in the First War. This book is a concise survery of all the issues and viewpointsl.
Focusing on the military aspects, Jackson makes it clear that leading up to the war the French army was evenly matched and in some respects had technological advantages. It's demise was related to strategic errors and disagreements among leadership that hindered the army's ability to coordinate.
The country was haunted by recent memories of the First World War, which was largely fought on French soil and the strategy of deploying the armies in Belgium at the outbreak of hostilities to avoid a repeat of this played right into the German plan.
Domestic politics were equally culpable with the left and the right taking very different views of how France should react to the crisis.
This book is a well researched, scholarly account of all these historically significant threads. It weaves the factors together brilliantly, revealing the characters and personalities of the major players while relating the major events leading up to the collapse in clear fashion.
Certainly enhanced my understanding of these events.