4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A disappointing and shallow effort,
This review is from: France, 1940: Blitzkrieg in the West (Osprey Campaign) (Paperback)Quite simply, this is one of the more disappointing entries in Osprey's Campaign Series. This is largely due to the nature of the campaign itself, which involved a rapid advance right across the interior of France. The likes of Normandy and Austerlitz (two of Osprey's earlier Campaign titles) have a much more limited focus as thus is better dealt in a slender volume such as the Campaign Series. The vast movements of the German army are trivialised into disjointed day by day narrative and a few battles, some of which (the crossing of the Meuse in particular) probably deserve their own titles in the Campaign Series! I notice Operation Barbarossa, the 1941 invasion of Russia, is dealt with by Osprey across three titles (Army Groups South, Centre and North) in the Campaign Series, such was the depth of that campaign. France 1940 probably deserves a similar approach, perhaps by treating Von Bock's foray and holding movements separately to Rundstedt's thrust through the Ardennes. However, even this approach is still unlikely to be satisfactory.
A further disappointment is the illustrations. The majority of the photographs have little to commend themselves and do not provide much context to the narrative. Some are just plain pointless. For example, there is a two page plan view of a ME109 on pages 22 and 23; the text preceding these pages (and immediately following) is about the morale of the French forces. In any event, a profile view of the same plane had already been provided on page 18! I suspect that at least one of the illustrations is incorrectly captioned (a Panzer II Ausf. b is identified as a Panzer II Ausf. B on page 14 - there is a difference between these two models). The narrative itself is rushed - this is most apparent in the section of the book discussing the commanders in which both French and German commanders are given short shrift. In this instance, given the illustrations did not provide as much context as one would have liked, it seems to be that more effort could have gone into the text by sacrificing some of the illustrations (e.g. that two page spread of the ME109!).
I have a number of the titles within Osprey's Campaign Series. Given the slender nature of these books (96 pages usually), I do not expect a detailed account of the battles and campaigns - I like being able to dip into the books without having to invest too much in learning of the context. If the book is of interest, I then seek out further reading. Even so, France 1940 does not do the subject justice, even to my militarily uneducated mind. Still, I suppose France 1940 does provide a basic overview (emphasis on basic), as well as key events, of the campaign, and as such may have some appeal to those who do not require a reasonable appreciation of the events of May 1940. Otherwise, it is best avoided. A better appreciation of France's fall may be found in The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940 (Making of the Modern World).