The history of the conquest of Gaul, it has been said, would be far more obscure if 20 of Caesar's generals had written commentaries. In June 1940 the armies of France, Great Britain, and Belgium succumbed to the onslaught of the German armies in less than six weeks. How this could have come about has hardly been illuminated by the accusations and counter-accusations of prominent French politicians and senior officers. The crossfire of charges is as blinding as a hailstorm.
This book is a bold attempt to clarify responsibilities and to answer the question of how an army - not greatly inferior to the enemy's and only 10 years before believed to be the strongest in Europe - met such an ignominious defeat. First it tells the story of the reconstitution of the army after 1919 and of the French defence preparations. It shows the chiefs of staffs' lack of imagination: How dull were their analyses of the recent war, how blind they were to the outside world, how negligent of such matters as the increase in speeds and range of armaments, how incurious as to their enemies, and how subservient to the politicians who courted an electorate which loathed war but was not ready to pay for peace, while an out-of-date armament industry existed on high protective tariffs. In 1939 France had an army and an air force trained for defeat.
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The mispronunciations are unbelievable
A large part of this book deals with movements of army units and requires a reasonable knowledge of the geography of Belgium and France and a high degree of concentration. It would be better read in conjunction with the printed version.
Just about every continental word or name is mispronounced, sometimes so badly that one has to think about it before one understands what he is trying to say. This improves during the course of the book and some degree of mispronunciation is not unusual in books about the first and Second World War, and would be bearable. However, one also has to contend with the bizarre pronunciations of English words, which he occasionally drops in. This aside, the performance is very good.
A fairly difficult listen, but it provides a fairly detailed account of this part of the war.