To Lose a Battle: France, 1940 Paperback – 28 Jun 2007
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About the Author
One of Britain’s greatest historians, Sir Alistair Horne, CBE, is the author of several famous books on French history as well as a two-volume life of Harold Macmillan.
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Top Customer Reviews
The parts of the book which I liked the best were the beginning and the end. In the early parts we read how the tragedy of World War I set France up for failure in World War II. France had been badly divided politically for generations, a heritage which contributed to the disaster of 1940. The massive kill-off of 1914-18 followed by the low Depression-era birthrate left France with a much smaller manpower pool than had existed in 1914. The memory of World War I, along with the long-standing divisions in the French body politic prevented the French form preparing an army which could maintain the distinguished French military tradition.
During the reading of this book, I gained a deeper appreciation of the role played by the Maginot Line. I has always heard that it was the last stand of fixed fortifications. In this book we see how the costs of the Line and its personnel demands drained money and resources which would have been more productively devoted to other units. During the "Phony War" the only effective relief that France could have provided to embattled Poland would have been an invasion of Germany. The ultimate irony is that the impregnable Maginot Line formed a barrier, not only to German invasion, but also to a French advance into enemy territory.
The massive middle of the book explains the facts of the defeat of France in agonizing detail.Read more ›
In all Horne's works he manages to master an immense amount of historical facts, and then write a fluid, moving account that ranges back and forth from the salons of power, where the personalities interact, and make their decisions, to individual stories of the "grunts" upon whom the ramifications of those decisions fell.Read more ›
Worth reading to compare to Shirer's Collapse of Third Republic; they're both fine works.
The invasion itself was a highly fluid affair, a textbook example of movement and the combined use of air and ground forces. The reader, unless they has a firm grasp on the geography of the area and the order of battle, will rather rapidly find themselves bogged down trying to picture the movement of the forces detailed in the text and end up in full sympathy with the confusion in the French command. The most interesting parts are those where ordinary soldiers are quoted, which give an insight into the reality of the war from both sides, including the copious adventures of one Erwin Rommel. The French hardly acquitted themselves well, even taking into account that they were to an extent hamstrung by pre-war decisions of which the Maginot line (almost totally marginal to the battle) is the most blatant.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not many books have jaw dropping sentences but this one did. It'll give new perspective on the invincibility of the German attack on France in 1940 and the utter incompetence of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Randy
excellent- how history books use to be written - you hear the voice of Horne , not a repetition of other historians views rehashed.Published 17 months ago by Kindle Customer
An excellent read - very detailed coverage of France's pre-war history and political problems. Would have liked more coverage of the BEF's input and the creation of the Vichy... Read morePublished 18 months ago by BobbyL
a well written well researched book which is a must read for all budding generals-do not assume anything in warPublished on 15 Jun. 2014 by M. Shubinsky
This book provides a very detailed account of the battle of France and events leading up to the German offensive, which tends to concentrate primarily on social, political and... Read morePublished on 19 May 2014 by Nico
The least engaging of his three books on Franco-German wars but still an excellent work of history. The Fall of Paris is the best.Published on 25 April 2014 by Musketeer
Engaging and extremely well written. I highly recommend this and the other two books in the trilogy, if anything the other two are even more interesting.Published on 12 Mar. 2014 by Horatio Farqhar
An excellent account of the fall of France, including the social and political divisions in the country post the First World War, the personality clashes between politicians and... Read morePublished on 4 Nov. 2013 by George
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