- Lloyd Clark
Well given the author's day job I expected a truly studious, dry and academic tome, to say I was pleasantly surprised is indeed an understatement. Some of the advertising blurb that came with the book labelled it “genuinely revisionist“, and reading that prior to opening the first page I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach believing that the publisher had bribed a critic to write this. My cynicism proved unfounded, indeed not only did I become engrossed in the book but I immediately went back and reread it from cover to cover, twice.
It proved revisionist to me as I had to revise everything I previously “knew“ about the German's campaign in the Low Countries and France in 1940 and it was done in a highly readable style and he managed to move the narrative pace on at a speed that wouldn't look out of place in a thriller; all the while informing us of the salient points and characters in this period of history.
From the prologue detailing Andre Maginot's departure for the front in 1914 through the various stages it is both highly readable and informative, moving swiftly from how the German state was both moved towards supporting military action but also made ready to take action. The planning process is covered in detail and how it was eventually changed and those responsible for changing it from an armoured rerun of the Schlieffen Plan to a whole new beast. Whilst the importance of new weapons and tactics is not understated it's clear that what made such a difference were the new modes of communication available to the commanders.
As the campaign started its clear that whilst the Allied High Command believed events were conforming to their preconceived idea of how events were actually proceeding, the difference in the information being received and what they were expecting was not noted or acted upon. As the situation worsened it was obvious that certain members of the Allied High Command were totally unsuited to their positions and unable to cope with their responsibilities. Their impact on the ability of the Allied forces to react to the actual events unfolding around them is shown to be critical as is the political background which is also examined both in France and in the UK. As it continues along the narrative pace doesn't falter and it gives a real sense of how rapidly the Allied forces were kept off balance and unable to mount a coherent counter to the German advances.
It is an extremely informative and revealing book of a period I thought I knew all the salient points, this completely changed my outlook and I honestly cannot recommend the book highly enough.
5/5 Mr MRHs