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French Battleships: 1922-1956 Hardcover – 1 Nov 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Nov 2009
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: US Naval Institute Press; 1 edition (Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591144167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591144168
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 2.3 x 29 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,226,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Naval nerds delight! The magnificent tome, French Battleships 1922-1956, has been awaiting review for a year; it was not some thing to be rushed. John Jordan and Robert Dumas have turned their passion of studying French capital ships into a durable and valuable historical work of reference, which is also the kind of book which can in spire. As with the great book, "The Battlecruiser HMS" Hood, by Bruce Taylor, I think I will keep my copy of "French Battleships" under my pillow for ready reference." -- "Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy"

"Naval nerds delight! The magnificent tome, "French Battleships 1922-1956," has been awaiting review for a year; it was not some thing to be rushed. John Jordan and Robert Dumas have turned their passion of studying French capital ships into a durable and valuable historical work of reference, which is also the kind of book which can in spire. As with the great book, "The Battlecruiser HMS" Hood, by Bruce Taylor, I think I will keep my copy of "French Battleships" under my pillow for ready reference." -- "Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy"

Naval nerds delight! The magnificent tome, "French Battleships 1922-1956," has been awaiting review for a year; it was not some thing to be rushed. John Jordan and Robert Dumas have turned their passion of studying French capital ships into a durable and valuable historical work of reference, which is also the kind of book which can in spire. As with the great book, "The Battlecruiser HMS" Hood, by Bruce Taylor, I think I will keep my copy of "French Battleships" under my pillow for ready reference. "Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy""


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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in the Dunkerque and Richelieu classes or the wartime French navy, this is a must buy book, which will certainly be read and re-read.

With good illustrations and a well written and informative text, the authors tell the story of these beautiful - especially in the case of the Dunkerques - but ill fated ships, which all led short lives and too often found themselves confronting the British and American navies rather than their intended Axis adversaries.

Apart from a wealth of interesting technical detail, the text benefits from the inclusion of some illuminating official reports, which let us see the ships as they were seen by senior officers at the time. There are also some good descriptions of the more heroic episodes in the ships' careers, such as Strasbourg's amazing escape from the holocaust of Mers el Kebir and the incomplete Jean Bart's last-minute escape from the Germans at St Nazaire.

There is also a useful analysis of Operation Catapult, which shows how the British actions were based on a completeley false picture of the situation, with respect both to Axis intentions and the likelihood that the French ships could ever be successfully deployed by the Germans or the Italians.

To be critical, there is an error relating to the machinery of the Bearn, which is wrongly described as 'all turbine' in one place (hopefully this can be corrected in future editions). One might also question whether there is really any point in including illustrations of the shore-based artillery at Dakar, interesting though these weapons might be.

From this reviewer's point of view, it would also have been desirable to have more internal photos of the ships and from later on their lives when they had been hulked. But these are minor matters, which hardly detract from what is an excellent book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The authors managed to piece together a truly superb account of France's final battleships - namely the Dunkerque's (Dunkerque & Strassbourg) and Richelieu's (Richelieu & Jean Bart) - in the prelude to WW2 all the way to 1956 when the last two left active duty (and 1970, when Jean Bart was finally sold for scrap). Covering all from the post WW1 environment in which they were conceived, to the protracted and at times difficult construction, to the entry into service and eventual service in French, Vichy French and finally Allied hands during WW2, as well as French service (all the way up to Suez) after the war, and finally to possible modifications and post WW2 follow-on designs, the book is a real treasure trove of information on these fine ships.

Even though there is lots to cover in a book of not too hefty proportions, the authors managed to get the balance spot on. There is a sensible organization principle into chapters, with highlighted 'asides', covering specific relevant details peppered in throughout. The authors often go into significant detail, which will definitely help the seasoned enthusiast but do so in a writing style that will also not alienate someone rather new to the field (although novices will probably have their difficulty understanding all the fire control issues encountered).

The two separate classes - the Dunkerque's and Richelieu's - led very different lives, with the first pair sadly being scuttled by their crews to prevent them from falling into German hands, and consequently seeing almost no action against their intended foes. Of the Richelieu's it was only the first that got completed and used in anger during WW2, with Jean Bart, in spite of intense efforts never having been put to use during the war.
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Format: Hardcover
I too enjoyed this book and was quite happy with my purchase. The battle action covered in the book is quite good on the British attacks on the French battleships in World War II, but surprisingly ignores the planned use of the Strasbourg in a run to help Vichy Syria at the time of the Allied invasion of Syria.

It does an excellent job of detailing the damage done to the four big French battleships (by the Allies!) and there were some surprises for me. I had not realized the loss of armament and issues with the secondary and tertiary guns at Dakar, Casablanca, and of course Mers-el Kebir.

Photographs are great and the language is English!
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Format: Hardcover
This book gives a detailed account of the development and service histories of the four battleships of the Dunkerque- and Richelieu Classes, not more, not less. Their older cousins - the Courbet- and Provence-Classes - are mentioned only briefly, despite the fact that they underwent major updates in the 1920's and 1930's, and despite the fact that they were still very present in WW II. Their real battle value may have been questionable, but at least one of them fired her guns in anger as late as 1945 so I think they deserved more than the fleeting mention they enjoyed in "French Battleships 1922-1956", the title indicating a broader scope than the one actually attempted by this book.

On the other hand, if someone looks for first-class reference regarding the latest French Battleships, the quadruple-turreted Dunkerque- and Richelieu-classes, he doesn't have to look any farther than to this book. Detailed accounts on both their design history and their actual build are complemented with detailed drawings and a host of technical data, including data on their armament. But this is only one half of the book - the other half is their operational history, including, even if limited, a discussion of the political background which led to tragic events as the "battles" of Mers-el-Kebir, Dakar and Casablanca, and which, more than anything, kept them from playing a major role in the battles of the second world war.

Great pictures and colour drawings complete the book, which is a fitting tribute to France's last battleships and the men who manned them. ("France's Last Battleships", by the way, would have been a better-fitting title than the one actually selected ;-))
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