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To Lose a Battle: France 1940 Kindle Edition
|Length: 740 pages||Word Wise: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
The parts of the book which I liked the best were the beginning and the end. In the early parts we read how the tragedy of World War I set France up for failure in World War II. France had been badly divided politically for generations, a heritage which contributed to the disaster of 1940. The massive kill-off of 1914-18 followed by the low Depression-era birthrate left France with a much smaller manpower pool than had existed in 1914. The memory of World War I, along with the long-standing divisions in the French body politic prevented the French form preparing an army which could maintain the distinguished French military tradition.
During the reading of this book, I gained a deeper appreciation of the role played by the Maginot Line. I has always heard that it was the last stand of fixed fortifications. In this book we see how the costs of the Line and its personnel demands drained money and resources which would have been more productively devoted to other units. During the "Phony War" the only effective relief that France could have provided to embattled Poland would have been an invasion of Germany. The ultimate irony is that the impregnable Maginot Line formed a barrier, not only to German invasion, but also to a French advance into enemy territory.
The massive middle of the book explains the facts of the defeat of France in agonizing detail.Read more ›
Horne prelude's the battle very well with his analysis of French culture and politics during the inter-war years. His detailed descriptions of the major engagements are well written and obviously researched. His conclusions are not forced but seem to flow naturally.
The only aspect of the book that I would have altered is to tone down some of Horne's politically conservative prejudices. However, a dozen or so passages does not invalidate this excellent book. Highly recommended.
I also loved the excerpts (from the then newspaper headlines) at the start of each chapter. I also liked the quotes that the author uses to make us see things in perspective (eg., when talking about General Maurice Gamelin's preference to experience over technology, the author quotes Fredrick the great - "Experience is useless unless the right conclusions are drawn from it" !!)
I strongly recommend to all lovers of WW2 books. If you have read Stephen Ambrose & Cornelius Ryan, you also want to read Alistair Horne!
In contrast, Part Two of TLaB examines the Battle of France as it unfolds. In this section, each of the first eight chapters (pages 257-510) follows the battle developments on a single day. For example, Chapter 11, "On the Meuse", examines the situation on May 12. Its section heads are: The Low Countries; Guderian Across the Semois; Second Army; Guderian at Sedan; Reinhardt; Ninth Army Cavalry Withdraws; and so on. These sections, in other words, convey what a particular general or army was experiencing during a certain tactical moment in the battle. Here, Horne's command of detail is impressive. Still, the actual evolution of events was not always easy to follow. I'd suggest more maps.
After the detailed battle analysis of Part Two, I found the final chapter, "Aftermath", to be a welcome jump back to the macro level, where Horne delivers great insights about the after-effects of this battle. These include:
o "But Hitler... had thought no further ahead...; no contingency plan had been prepared whereby a tottering Britain might be invaded immediately after success had been achieved in France... The Germans had missed the bus...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is probably my favourite military history book. I almost lose track of the number of times I have read it; certainly I have already once replaced the copy I bought in the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Alan. J. Reynolds
Well documented and enjoyable to read.
A bit biased toward the Brits and aginst the French, but that had to be expected!
Lots of good information on the Battle of France. There are areas I want more details on, but each of them probably deserves its own book. Read morePublished 11 months ago by J. Hylton
Masterful Narrative with Tension and Suspense. Although the outcome is known, the gripping progression of events makes me care about the fortune and fate of the victor and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Phoque
Even though this has been out for many years, it is still the best account of the fall of France in 1940. Read morePublished 12 months ago by John de Angelo
Even though this has been out for many years, it is still the best account of the fall of France in 1940. Read morePublished 12 months ago by John S. D'Angelo
For most histories of World War 2, the defeat of France in 1940 is presented as a foregone conclusion, based on the premise of Germany's advances in armoured warfare, their larger... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Craig MACKINNON