The Fall of France in 1940 is one of the pivotal moments of the twentieth century. If the German invasion of France had failed, it is arguable that the war might have ended right there. But the French suffered instead a dramatic and humiliating defeat, a loss that ultimately drew the whole world into war.
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. Using eyewitness accounts, memoirs, and diaries to bring the story to life, Jackson not only recreates the intense atmosphere of the six weeks in May and June leading up to the establishment of the Vichy regime, but he also unravels the historical evidence to produce a fresh answer to the perennial question--was the fall of France inevitable. Jackson's vivid narrative explores the errors of France's military leaders, her inability to create stronger alliances, the political infighting, the lack of morale, even the decadence of the inter-war years. He debunks the "vast superiority" of the German army, revealing that the more experienced French troops did well in battle against the Germans. Perhaps more than anything else, the cause of the defeat was the failure of the French to pinpoint where the main thrust of the German army would come, a failure that led them to put their best soldiers up against a feint, while their worst troops faced the heart of the German war machine.
An engaging and authoritative narrative, The Fall of France illuminates six weeks that changed the course of twentieth-century history.
`Review from previous edition an extremely lucid and absorbing account...superb reconstruction,
which melds expert military knowledge with riveting mini-biographies
of the principal players. This is history as it should be written.
Frank McLynn, New Statesman
`eminently fair and utterly absorbing book. This is an admirable
study, clearly written and quite the best thing I have read on this
Allan Massie, Literary Review
Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph (Review)
1: 'We are Beaten'
2: Uneasy Allies
3: The Politics of Defeat
4: The French People at War
5: Causes and Counterfactuals