The Fall of France

The Fall of France

The Nazi Invasion of 1940

Book - 2003
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On 16 May 1940 an emergency meeting of the French High Command was called at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. The Germans had broken through the French lines on the River Meuse at Sedan and other locations, only five days after launching their attack. Churchill, who had been contacted by PrimeMinister Reynaud the previous evening to be told that the French were beaten, had rushed to Paris. The mood on the French side was one of panic and despair: earlier in the day the French government had discussed the possibility of evacuating Paris. As the meeting proceeded, thick smoke rose from thegarden outside the window as officials feverishly burnt papers to prevent them falling into German hands. Churchill asked Gamelin, the French Commander in Chief, 'Where are your reserves?' 'There are none', replied Gamelin.This exciting new book by Julian Jackson, a leading historian of twentieth-century France, charts the breathtakingly rapid events that led to the defeat and surrender of one of the greatest bastions of the Western Allies, and thus to a dramatic new phase of the Second World War. Using eyewitnessaccounts, memoirs, and diaries to bring the story to life, Julian Jackson both recreates the intense atmosphere of the six weeks in May and June leading up to the Vichy regime, and unravels the historical evidence to produce a fresh answer to the perennial question of whether the fall of France wasinevitable.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2003
ISBN: 9780192803009
Characteristics: xvii, 274 p. : ill., maps


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Jan 09, 2019

"In short, the defeat of France set in motion a massive escalation of the war: it helped to turn what had been so far a limited European conflict into a world war."
A thoroughly researched and dense history of the downfall of France during World War 2. Professor Julian Jackson ably sorts through the many theories of their quick defeat, which has led to endless jokes in poor taste about the French as fighters, from military un-readiness to moral decay. The book presumes some prior knowledge and doesn't offer much context, but this is an academic book put out by Oxford, so it's not trying to be a mainstream history. Even if it's not the easiest ready, it is an important book about a key point in French and European history.

Oct 10, 2018

Of course, there are many complicated reasons why France "fell." Jackson carefully examines them separately (France's pre-WW II history, her military, her politicians, her culture, Anglo-French enmity) and then weaves these together. This short book is quite nutrient-dense so is not a light read but it is highly rewarding.

Jul 27, 2018

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