This is a superb book by one of Britain's foremost military historians. The author expressly states that he assumes the reader has a certain level of knowledge of Vichy, the Nazi empire and the SS and this enables him to concentrate on the events he describes rather than rehashing material available elsewhere. The title does scant justice to the scope of the book. While Das Reich itself is, of course, central to the narrative, the author deals in depth with the maquis and the other factions of the French Resistance, their politics, their bravery and their stupidity. His descriptions are not always flattering although he is always scrupulously objective. The SOE, the SAS and the OSS are similarly treated. The two seminal events, the massacres at Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane, are described and discussed at some length. The former may have had some slight justification; the latter - much the better known outside France - had none whatever. My blood ran cold when the the author quoted without comment a father's description of finding the partially charred body of one of his children in the smoking, burnt out church, and searching unsuccessfully for his other son among bullet-riddled prams and the bodies of at least twenty small children who had unsuccessfully sought safety behind the altar.
The paperback edition which I read suffers from sloppy proof-reading and irritating typographical errors: the surname of Major Kampfe (whose abduction was the catalyst for the events at Oradour) is rendered as "Kampie" in a couple of places, "farmers" is given as "fanners" and so on. It is this alone which stops me giving the book five stars.