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on 8 May 2014
Some history books are written by authors who, while they obviously know the subject inside out, cannot write in a style that engages the reader. Not this one. Sebag-Montefiore manages to walk that fine line of presenting a huge amount of historical detail whilst still telling a story in a very readable way. A very poignant story too, of a period in WWII which doesn't get enough detailed analysis.
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on 7 August 2017
Very good read from the start to finish I didn't know that there were more bought off after the beaches and the bravery of the British troops was just as I would have expected.
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on 29 January 2011
I think one should distinguish between the professional finish and great literary flow of this book, and its value as history. It is almost always factually correct, relates many episodes (including once obscure ones such as the SS massacre of British prisoners) and gets the imagination going. Sebag-M sits alongside Anthony Beevor as a historian of this type. On all those grounds it is worth 5 stars. However 2 hours at the National Archive reading the original RN, RAF and War Office reports, followed by a re-reading of Divine's classic "Nine Days at Dunkirk" take one closer to the people and the facts. There is something just a bit too literary, stylish and middle-class about the text to recall to mind those grimy seamen, gentleman officers, French officials, amateur and professional yachtsmen, and Prussian generals who acted out Dunkirk.
So, a very good book from a very able author, but I kept thinking "This still isn't close enough to the time and the reality".
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on 23 August 2017
Deserves every positive review, gives the background to the tragedy so you get the whole perspective.
Brilliantly written.
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on 25 January 2014
Any attempt to recount the debacle at Dunkirk founders to a certain extent on the lack of information from the French side. Inevitably the British perspective gradually takes over simply because of the availability of source material and the wilingness to examine the topic. No French historian to my knowledge has attempted to produce an overview of the 1940 campaign and the defeat of the French armies. Certainly there have been some superb histories covering the machines used by the French and the engagements in which they fought but they have only really dealt with small and isolated aspects of the overall campaign. Nothing has been attempted on the scale of Horne's 'To lose a battle' and thus one is left with a kind of vacuum. This is disappointing as the view has often been expressed that the British deserted the French in their hour of need. However, what is needed is an answer to the question (and once again no French historian has actually attempted to answer it) why should young Britsh, Dutch and Belgian men die for France when the French for the most part were not prepared to do so themselves? A detailed and well researched French perspective on this campaign is long overdue.
Sebag-Montifiore does attempt to address the French view and includes interesting details in his supeb work of the deteriorating relationships between the two allies. It is refreshing to read a history which covers the events in such detail but also does not ignore any of the human aspects. He tries to be fair to the French and includes several accounts of how French soldiers suffered from British prejudice and mistreatment as well as the other way round. Here I felt that more could have been made of the evacuation of the French troops as well - for example the 2nd DLM crossed the channel - and accounts from of this would have added an extra dimension to the book. Still one is impressed by the detail he does manage to include. One impression that shines through in his material is the professionalism of the British soldiers despite defeat and here perhaps is the vital difference between them and the French army. The latter certainly contained highly professional and competent elements but overall does not seem to have reached the same level as the British. Once again Horne also bears this out.
Is this work defenitive? Well no because a definitive account of this action would probably stretch to over 2,000 pages. However, it is as near definitive as can be expected and superceeds all other accounts of the evacuation. We can confidently describe it as a masterwork and it is one that should be read by anyone interested in the campaign in France. Do not be put off by the length as there is a lot of information and detail that needs to be included. Sebag-Montifiore has done the subject justice.
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on 15 April 2017
Great book would recommend.
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on 4 July 2015
Good book but unreadable on kindle. Reference to maps provided is necessary throughout the book. Unfortunately, the maps are not legible on kindle. Amazon should become less paranoid and provide purchasers with PDF version of the chapter with the maps in it so they can be printed out. This must affect many books on kindle.
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on 12 May 2017
One of the best narratives on the campaign. Get yours before the new film drives the prices up!
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on 20 June 2017
A good read. It highlights some hitherto only hinted at situations. It is a gripping read and worth the time to get a handle on the debacle of the defence of France.
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on 8 June 2017
Good read but terrible maps.
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