9780192805508

The Fall of France The Nazi Invasion of 1940

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780192805508

  • ISBN10:

    0192805509

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-05-27
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Summary

The Fall of France in 1940 is one of the pivotal moments of the twentieth century. If the German invasion of France had failed, it is arguable that the war might have ended right there. But the French suffered instead a dramatic and humiliating defeat, a loss that ultimately drew the whole world into war. This exciting new book by Julian Jackson, a leading historian of twentieth-century France, charts the breathtakingly rapid events that led to the defeat and surrender of one of the greatest bastions of the Western Allies. Using eyewitness accounts, memoirs, and diaries to bring the story to life, Jackson not only recreates the intense atmosphere of the six weeks in May and June leading up to the establishment of the Vichy regime, but he also unravels the historical evidence to produce a fresh answer to the perennial question--was the fall of France inevitable. Jackson's vivid narrative explores the errors of France's military leaders, her inability to create stronger alliances, the political infighting, the lack of morale, even the decadence of the inter-war years. He debunks the "vast superiority" of the German army, revealing that the more experienced French troops did well in battle against the Germans. Perhaps more than anything else, the cause of the defeat was the failure of the French to pinpoint where the main thrust of the German army would come, a failure that led them to put their best soldiers up against a feint, while their worst troops faced the heart of the German war machine. An engaging and authoritative narrative, The Fall of France illuminates six weeks that changed the course of twentieth-century history.

Author Biography


Julian Jackson is Professor of French History at the University of Swansea and the author of several books on twentieth-century France, including France: The Dark Years 1940-1944, which was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Award.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xii
List of Maps xiv
Brief Chronology xv
Abbreviations xvii
Introduction 1(8)
PART I: THE STORY
1. 'We Are Beaten'
9(51)
16 May 1940: Churchill in Paris
9(1)
The Mysterious General Gamelin
10(2)
'Ready for War': Tanks and Guns
12(5)
The Air Force
17(4)
French Military Doctrine: 'Retired on Mount Sinai'?
21(4)
Fighting in Belgium: The Dyle Plan
25(5)
The Matador's Cloak
30(3)
The Allied Order of Battle
33(4)
10-15 May: Into Belgium
37(2)
10-12 May: Through the Ardennes
39(3)
13 May: The Germans Cross the Meuse
42(5)
14-15 May: The Counter-attack Fails: The Tragic Fate of the Three DCRs
47(8)
17-18 May: The Tortoise Head
55(3)
19-20 May: 'Without Wishing to Intervene...': The End of Gamelin
58(2)
2. Uneasy Allies
60(41)
21 May 1940: Weygand in Ypres
60(2)
Looking for Allies: 1920-1938
62(4)
Elusive Albion: Britain and France 1919-1939
66(5)
The Alliance That Never Was
71(3)
Gamelin's Disappointments: Poland, Belgium, Britain
74(5)
Britain and France in the Phoney War
79(6)
10-22 May: 'Allied to so Temperamental a Race'
85(3)
22-25 May: The 'Weygand Plan'
88(5)
The Belgian Capitulation
93(1)
26 May-4 June: Operation Dynamo
94(3)
After Dunkirk: 'In Mourning For Us'
97(4)
3. The Politics of Defeat
101(42)
12 June 1940: Paul Reynaud at Cange (Loire)
101(5)
The French Civil War
106(6)
'Rather Hitler than Blum?'
112(4)
April 1938-September 1939: The Daladier Government
116(4)
Daladier at War
120(3)
Reynaud v. Daladier
123(2)
Reynaud at War
125(4)
25-28 May: Weygand's Proposal
129(5)
29 May-9 June: Reynaud's Alternative
134(1)
12-16 June: Reynaud v. Weygand
135(3)
16 June: Reynaud's Resignation
138(5)
4. The French People at War
143(42)
17 June 1940: Georges Friedmann in Niort
143(2)
Remembering 1914
145(1)
A Pacifist Nation
146(5)
Going to War: 'Something between Resolution and Resignation'
151(1)
Phoney War Blues
152(3)
Why Are We Fighting?
155(3)
The French Army in 1940
158(3)
Soldiers at War I: 'Confident and Full of Hope'
161(2)
Soldiers at War II: 'The Germans Are at Bulson' (13 May)
163(4)
Soldiers at War III: The 'Molecular Disintegration' of the 71DI
167(7)
The Exodus
174(4)
Soldiers at War IV: 'Sans esprit de recul' (5-10 June)
178(7)
PART II: CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES, AND COUNTERFACTUALS
5. Causes and Counterfactuals
185(43)
July 1940: Marc Bloch in Gueret
185(3)
Historians and the Defeat
188(9)
Counterfactuals I: 1914
197(3)
Counterfactuals II: Britain's Finest Hour
200(13)
The Other Side of the Hill: Germany
213(6)
Explaining Defeat: 'Moving in a Kind of Fog'
219(5)
Army and Society
224(4)
6. Consequences
228(22)
June 1940: Francois Mitterrand at Verdun: 'No Need to Say More'
228(4)
Vichy: The Lessons of Defeat
232(3)
'Fulcrum of the Twentieth Century'
235(4)
Gaullism and 1940
239(4)
National Renewal after 1945
243(2)
1940 and Colonial Nostalgia
245(2)
1940 Today
247(3)
Guide to Further Reading 250(7)
Notes 257(8)
Index 265

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