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Strange Defeat Print on Demand (Paperback)

4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Print on Demand (Paperback)
  • Publisher: Important Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8087830830
  • ISBN-13: 978-8087830833
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.3 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,362,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I keep returning to this book as among the best I've ever read. It is both good reading as military history and failure analysis: no one has been able to write so deftly and originally about why France fell so swiftly in 1940. Unlike other military history books, this one is not heavy on maps nor units nor armament, merely a very incisive and friendly discussion of why France fells so quickly.
Having served during WW1 and serving during WW2, Marc Bloch points to a litany of reasons why the French army, which was better equipted than the Germans, collapsed so suddenly. Despite what I learned in highschool about the French defeat of WW2 (France was overconfident behind the Maginot Line), Marc Bloch tells a different reason. The French army never understood how the speed of modern weapons had shortened space. Marc Bloch, serving at the front in 1940, recalled that the German offensive actually seem to overtake each French retreat: whenever Marc Bloch's unit retreated in 1940, they constantly found the Germans in their rear. The consequence was the French army was in a perpetual retreat and lacked the time to mount a proper counter offensive.
Marc Bloch also points to the cultural factors in the French defeat, namely the French education system which ignored history and visual arts in its cirriculum. He proposes a greater emphasis on both. I agree with the latter: in the US, we are saturated with images but we are visually illiterate. As for history, there is now too much emphasis on history without a comparable attempt to work things out in the present. This is a terrific book that reads like a no-holds barred fight.
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This slim, unpretentious volume, written at the time events took place, and validated by the author's subsequent death at German's hands, is the best witness account we have of the disintegration of what at the time was regarded the most powerful army in the Allied camp. There is a dry-eyed innocence in the reporting that makes the shattering news it conveys more momentous than anything I have read in more scholarly, more documented, chronicles of the period which overwhelm citizen experience with broader perspectives. This is not to minimize others' works, nor to regard M. Bloch as a "minimalist": au contraire. He was a world-renowned medieval scholar, so his mind was nuanced and perceptive, his approach unsentimental and objective; he brings the full intellectual rigor of his training and experience to extract all possible social, historical, and moral truth from the seemingly mundane. He was in his late forties when the war started but nonetheless, served with honor, very much with his eyes-opened, did his duty in the army and kept his brain functioning throughout rather than putting it on hold in blind patriotism (such a treacherous, over-rated popular paliative). He kept at his craft but rather than delving in ancient manuscripts he reported on what he observed around him of an army, indeed a state, in rapid collapse. The macro waves drowning the country are inferred from his micro observations. Indeed the many treasures come in seemingly casual descriptions of mundane events like millions of naked, flickering, low-wattage light-bulbs adumbrating the tragedy of national collapse. Bloch comes to a melancholic but inherently optimistic conclusion: the future of France will be built not by men of his generation, but by a new breed.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The simple-minded are apt to chalk up the shocking defeat of France in the summer of 1940 to French weakness. If you'd rather think a bit more deeply, read this classic account by the pioneering medieval historian. Bloch, who lived through the defeat and died fighting with the French resistance, lays out a penetrating analysis of the French defeat. It is vivid, perceptive, beautifully written, and unsparing in its examination of the failures of the generals, the politicians, and the people. It is a thought-provoking cultural critique of a society in a moment of crisis. A classic.
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In "Strange Victory", French Army Captain Marc Bloch, gives a first-hand account of the French defeat in May-June 1940, and discusses why and how the French were defeated. Bloch was a veteran of World War I, and due to patriotic reasons, remained as a reserve officer between World War I and II, while earning a living as a professor and historian. Although he was 53 years old at the outbreak of World War II, he voluntarily elected to continue service, and was eventually assigned as a divisional fuels officer. He was assigned to the "Northern Front", and was among those encircled by the Germans in their May 1940 offensive, and was evacuated at Dunkirk. After evacuation he was returned to France in the Normandy area, and when the Germans reached his area, rather than surrender, he slipped away and returned home to write this history in 1940.

The book opens with a description of what he experienced from the outbreak of war until his return home. Although he was not a front-line officer, he was able to observe a great deal from the French side of things, from a command perpective. And because of his training as a historian, he was able to have a certain detachment, which enabled him to understand what was happening, and why. The rest of the book explains why the French were basically defeated by the Germans in only six weeks of combat whereas they had defeated the Germans 22 years before.
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