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One of the best books I have ever read. The French were still relying on runners and carrier pigeons. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Marc Léopold Benjamin Bloch (6 July 1886 in Lyon – 16 June 1944 in Saint-Didier-de-Formans) was a medieval historian, University Professor and French Army officer. In this soul-searching little volume, written shortly after the collapse of France in 1940, Bloch seeks the underlying causes for the weaknesses of the French state which led to that calamity. I just completed my World War 2 cluster with “Strange Defeat”, Marc Bloch’s analysis of why it was so easy for Nazi Germany to conqueror France. How ironic this observation in the midst of the overwhelming propaganda for Petain's phony reactionary, bullying National Revolution and its relatively widespread support (at least in its early stages) in Occupied and Vichy France. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2018. Bloch is an historian who fought in WWI and WWII and writes this in reflection on France's qui. Penned in what the author, Marc Bloch, confessed was “a white heat of rage,” the resulting book, L’Étrange défaite, or Strange Defeat, remains among the most incisive analyses of … In his passionate memoir about the defeat and betrayal of France in May-June 1940, Strange Defeat, the historian March Bloch, a man of the decent and moderate Left, lamented such blind pacifism and the concomitant dismissal of the legitimacy and dignity of patriotism and national loyalty. This short, very well written book is the judgement of a prominent French historian on how France came to be so swiftly defeated in World War Two, not as a matter of tactics and movements on maps, but also in how the seeds of defeat lay in the state of the nation. Here are the main ones that I recall: The French government was dysfunctional; defense funds were miss- spent on construction of a defensive wall (i.e., the Maginot line which the Nazis circumvented) instead of on tanks and planes; the French Army was commanded by old men (and younger officers trained by them) who thought the new War would be exactly like the last one and adopted their strategy and tactics accordingly, ignoring the blitzkrieg tactics and capabilities Germany displayed in its invasion of Poland. There is a dry-eyed innocence in the reporting that makes the shattering news it conveys more momentous than anything I have read in more scholarly, more documented, chronicles of the period which overwhelm citizen experience with broader perspectives. It takes a peculiar sort of courage to write the eye-witness history not only of a defeat, but of the comprehensive collapse of the country one loves, at the hands of an enemy one hates and despises from the depths of one's soul. L'Étrange Défaite is a book written in the summer of 1940 by French historian Marc Bloch. A poignant ...memoir, if that word can be used to describe this diagnosis that is oddly resonant in some ways, while failing to connect in others. Bloch comes to a melancholic but inherently optimistic conclusion: the future of France will be built not by men of his generation, but by a new breed. Does there exist an audio production of this book for a blind friend, please? To Defeat the Few Book Review: Over the past 80 years, histories of the Battle of Britain have consistently portrayed the feats of 'The Few' (as they were immortalized in Churchill's famous speech) as being responsible for the RAF's victory in the epic battle. Top subscription boxes – right to your door, © 1996-2020, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Strongly recommended, but you may find it too close for comfort to things you see in the world around you today. Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2015. by W. W. Norton Company. A renowned historian and Resistance fighter - later executed by the Nazis - analyzes at first hand why France fell in 1940. The author went on to be a major figure in the French Resistance and was shot for his efforts. I found this to be an excellent book about the surprising and earth-shattering defeat of France and Britain in May of 1940. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations, Select the department you want to search in, IMPORTANT FOR UNDERSTANDING CONTEMPORARY FATEFUL PREDICAMENTS, Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2018. The author went on to be a major figure in the French Resistance and was shot for his. Even so it was a very close thing and this book reveals just how close a victory for the Germans it was. Was defeat really so strange? New African American Histories and Biographies to Read Now. Bloch was a founder of the Annales School, best known for his pioneering studies French Rural History and Feudal Society and his posthumously-published unfinished meditation on the writing of history, The Historian's Craft. In "Strange Victory", French Army Captain Marc Bloch, gives a first-hand account of the French defeat in May-June 1940, and discusses why and how the French were defeated. In reading it, I found that it was also a war memoir with absurdist themes. Reading this hook is to be humbled by a patriot of France. But the fact is that there is a great deal of repetition and it is hard to draw our the relevant lessons. Buy a cheap copy of Strange Defeat book by Marc Bloch. And because of the analytic tone, and because he writes to criticize his own country's faults rather than to demonize the invaders, it may perhaps be accessible in a way that other treatments of history are not. The tone for this school of thought was certainly set by the great French medievalist … To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. But the fact is that there is a great deal of repetition and it is hard to draw our the relevant lessons. Allied misjudgements, excellent German planning, and a lot of luck were the culprits of France's defeat. I wonder if Strange Defeat is required reading in the army staff colleges of the world--not so much ma, This is a hell of a book. The short version is that the Germans had the best fighter aircraft force in the world in 1940, and decent tanks (thoug. Looking ahead to the present day, the book also examines how the French establishment and public have coped with the legacy of Vichy, and explains why the occupation is still ever present in … I know the book was written under difficult circumstances and the author was killed before he could do a review and possible reorganization. A dispirited French Army, lacking confidence in itself and its leaders, was rapidly overwhelmed by the German Army, honed to a fine edge after its easy victory in Poland. A fascinating text. It is also a subtle window into the French social system of classes and the tensions between them, he unabashedly supports his own class and that of the working man -- which not only explains some of the events leading to 1940, but offes insight into the post-war actions of DeGaulle and others. He gives an insider's viewpoint and is cynically. This is his first-order diagnosis of why the French military was so utterly unprepared for the war of movement that unfolded in the May 1940, despite having seen the adequate warnings of what it could look like in Poland in September 1939. Accessible and concise, the book offers a wide-ranging synthesis of key themes and events. Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Strange Defeat: A Statement of Evidence Written in 1940 at Amazon.com. After evacuation he was returned to France in the Normandy area, and when the Germans reached his area, rather than surrender, he slipped away and returned home to write this history in 1940. It is written almost immediately after the campaign, and the author goes on to be tortured and killed by the Germans in 1944 for his activities in the Resistance. He was unique in every way. Reviewed in the United States on July 31, 2020. His patriotism being without question, his perspective on the faults in the French General Staff and its' prosecution of the war and the general public's attitude toward defeat are enlightening. There were plenty of tanks and planes produced. Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France Ernest R. May Review by Roger Bishop. I think it's an important book, a must read for history buffs. Marc Bloch wrote Strange Defeat during the three months following the fall of France, after he returned home from military service. I feel like this works better as a primary source than as a objective take on the French defeat. Those would be more on the just 3-star level. As it was, and as Bloch makes clear, the campaign was fought, and lost, by men who were still fighting WW1. This book was written after the defeat and before he joined the Resistance (in whose service he was captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo). Marc Bloch wrote Strange Defeat during the three months following the fall of France, after he returned home from military service. Verified Purchase. This is not to minimize others' works, nor to regard M. Bloch as a "minimalist": au contraire. In the midst of his anguish, he nevertheless "brought to his study of the crisis all the critical faculty and all the penetrating analysis of a first-rate historian" (Christian Science Monitor). He was in his late forties when the war started but nonetheless, served with honor, very much with his eyes-opened, did his duty in the army and kept his brain functioning throughout rather than putting it on hold in blind patriotism (such a treacherous, over-rated popular paliative). Bloch does touch on briefly the spiritual malaise and these points, but they merit greater explanation than the leadershi. A brief account of hell, written from hell, by a man who (as we know with hindsight) was bound for hell on earth at the hands of the Gestapo. But Chapter 3, where he covers their shortcomings as a people in recognizing the German threat and in being prepared to adequately deal with it, that is worth the time to read for sure. First couple of chapters on the military failings of the French Army in facing the Germans in WWII is pretty standard fare - fighting the last war, overly bureaucratic, etc. A gem of a book about WWII by a great medievalist. An engaging, thoroughly researched account of Nazi Germany’s surprising, rapid defeat of French and Allied forces in the spring of 1940. Bloc writes a powerful piece about World War II and critiques the reasons for the performance of the french in WWII. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. So often, Godwin's law or the persistent apologists for Communism hinder us from learning badly needed lessons from the tulmutuous twentieth century. The Nazis had chucked that playbook away. A great perspective on the fall of the French in WWII. No one escapes his wrath: not the general staff, not the field commanders, not the industrialists, not the proletarians, not the intellectuals, not the newspapers, not the English. He was assigned to the "Northern Front", and was among those encircled by the Germans in their May 1940 offensive, and was evacuated at Dunkirk. As I read this book, I imagined I was sitting by a fireplace sharing a glass of wine with Marc Bloch who is sharing with me his history and assessments of his participation in WWI and WWII. Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2012. This short, very well written book is the judgement of a prominent French historian on how France came to be so swiftly defeated in World War Two, not as a matter of tactics and movements on maps, but also in how the seeds of defeat lay in the state of the nation. This is his first-order diagnosis of why the French military was so utterly unprepared for the war of movement th. I think it would have pleased him to have people read his words today, and learn from them while such cataclysmic results are still avoidable. Some of his explanations for France’s collapse may ( or may not) offer lessons for us today. He's a fascinating person as he later fought in the French Resistance and I wish he had survived (he was shot by the Gestapo in 1944) so that we could see if his opinion had changed with time. True to the historian’s craft, his writing is passionate but never impulsive, his judgments piercing but never unfair; with the exception of mostly infrequent, minor generalisations about different groups of people/organisations (which I nevertheless believe were. Man, this book is hard to beat. This slim, unpretentious volume, written at the time events took place, and validated by the author's subsequent death at German's hands, is the best witness account we have of the disintegration of what at the time was regarded the most powerful army in the Allied camp. Conventional thinking has focused on three reasons. Other forces had developed field radios for troops and tanks. If men like Marc Bloch had been present in the upper echelons of the French military in the 1930s, the story might have been a very different one. Although he was 53 years old at the outbreak of World War II, he voluntarily elected to continue service, and was eventually assigned as a divisional fuels officer. Bloch approaches a subject matter which, I feel, few writers of his time could have with the same extraordinary level of emotional collectedness, clarity, or finesse—the complete disintegration of one’s nation, both military and social. My main reason for finding and reading this book is that it often shows up in citations and direct quotations in other histories on the fall of France in 1940. Book Review: Strange Defeat by Marc Bloch | Mboten List 2: March Bloch and the Strange Defeat 4. academics (several of whom had served in the Great War). After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in. This is a short book and is an extraordinary read - particularly in these times. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2018. Bloch seems a little too invested at throwing blame at the generals or the unions or many other targets. I know the book was written under difficult circumstances and the author was killed before he could do a review and possible reorganization. Americans make fun of France's defeat in 1940, but if the American Army of 1940 had been there it would absolutely have been defeated as badly as the French and British were. True to the historian’s craft, his writing is passionate but never impulsive, his judgments piercing but never unfair; with the exception of mostly infrequent, minor generalisations about different groups of people/organisations (which I nevertheless believe were made in good faith) e.g. It is a French patriot's eye view. Bloch's writing style is wordy; he's a real intellectual and this can make the reading a bit slow. He's a fascinating person as he later fought in the French Resistance and I wish he had survived (he was shot by the Gestapo in 1944) so that we could see if his opinion had changed with time. July 17th 1999 A renowned historian and Resistance fighter — later executed by the Nazis — analyzes at first hand why France fell in 1940.Marc Bloch wrote Strange Defeat during... Free shipping over $10. I just completed my World War 2 cluster with “Strange Defeat”, Marc Bloch’s analysis of why it was so easy for Nazi Germany to conqueror France. (Among the malaises he identifies, I don't think he mentions anti-semitism. Fyi, Marc Bloch, who worked in the Resistance after the debacle of 1940 was later killed by the Gestapo. There may also have been a defeatist attitude, partly based on a memory of terrible losses during World War I. Although I graduated from West Point and studied military history both as part of my profession and also as an avocation, I could never really comprehend how the Germans pulled off the defeat of France, from a purely military and logistical standpoint. He was captured and shot by the Gestapo during the German occupation of France for his work in the French Resistance. Block was an eminent French historian who served in the First World War; volunteered for the second despite being a middle- aged grandfather; and was executed by the Nazis in 1944 for his work with the resistance. He wrote, Years ago I read somewhere that it is beneficial to read books in topical clusters, i.e., that are somehow connected to one another. At the time he was a renowned Medieval history professor who took up his reserve status in the French Army at the age of 52 only to see the arrogance, ineptitude and disgrace of the self-serving leadership of the French Army and government under Jenri Phillippe Petan. The sad story and De Profundis of how and why every segment of society gave in when the Germans came. I can not recommend it highly enough. A poignant ...memoir, if that word can be used to describe this diagnosis that is oddly resonant in some ways, while failing to connect in others. Why did Germany defeat France so easily in 1940? For that matter, a lot of his values really resonate today.... A shattering assessment of why the French were so easily defeated in 1940, written in the bleak moment immediately after the capitulation: We usually see alternative histories where the Nazis do better then they did in real life. ), Marc Bloch's "present history" account of the Fall of France in the Spring of 1940 is rightly considered an essential account of the events: above all, it is a devastating critique of the conservatism of the military establishment and the failures of the military bureaucracy to create a machine made for war rather than pettifogging paper pushing and internal bureaucratic competition. It wd be beneath his dignity--but the reader should be in no doubt. The author, a noted medieval historian, fought in both world wars and during the second was a Resistance leader, executed by the Nazis in 1944. He kept at his craft but rather than delving in ancient manuscripts he reported on what he observed around him of an army, indeed a state, in rapid collapse. This is one of the books that helped me understand. Buy Strange Defeat: A Statement of Evidence Written in 1940 New Ed by Bloch, Marc (ISBN: 9780393319118) from Amazon's Book Store. Even in the most abject moments of defeat, I don't think Bloch ever wavered in the belief that the Germans would eventually have to go. Here he continued to teach for another 18 months before dismissal. France: A Strange Defeat by Mark Lilla | The New York Review of Books 12/03/15 16:22 One individual's (a historian and philosopher) history of the military fall of France - May-June, 1940. Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, Published I knew 40 years ago that he had a first-rate mind. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the French collapse in 1940. The short version is that the Germans had the best fighter aircraft force in the world in 1940, and decent tanks (though not the best - that came later), and they used the forces in a way which was unheard of then, and is now standard to all major armies of the world. But the fact is that there is a great deal of repetition and it is hard to draw our the relevant lessons. Marc Bloch wrote Strange Defeat during the three months following the fall of France, after he returned home from military service. It takes a peculiar sort of courage to write the eye-witness history not only of a defeat, but of the comprehensive collapse of the country one loves, at the hands of an enemy one hates and despises from the depths of one's soul. On prose quality and emotional resonance alone, it's the best book on world war two that I've read (and I've read... quite a number of books on the subject.) His testament was one that placed loyalty to his country rather than to Zionism. Strange Defeat presents the Fall of France, 1940 from the French perspective. He counterposes the French decisions and methods to that of the Germans in the interwar period and during the Phoney War. Everyone should read this. Bloc is a brilliant writer with good historical insight. 54 reviews. Indeed, without regret or melancholy, there seems to have been an absolute faith in the eventual disappearance of the old, pre-popular front, pre-war French order, as much as of French political and military men, as of pre-war French bourgeoisie. Book of the day Fiction Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan review – brilliantly strange Set across nine decades in an Edinburgh tenement, this haunted panorama is a dazzling outsider history French Resistance and was active in the United States on July 31, 2020 University in world... Wide-Ranging synthesis of key themes and events a War memoir with absurdist.... Spread out as the killers veered through the city before they escaped in the around... 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