Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
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Forst
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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Forst » 07 Nov 2010 03:04

By far - very far - the best work is undoubtedly The Dark Years 1940-1944 by Julian Jackson for the general war period although not Vichy. I would imagine Paxton is still the standard work. Unlike the case with Germany, most of the good books on this subject particularly written by participants, former ministers and leading figures - Deat, Weygand or the massive notes and recollections of Darlan - all remain untranslated. More books on Vichy are translated from English into French than vice-versa.

Georges JEROME
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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Georges JEROME » 07 Nov 2010 16:09

For those who want to know more on Elsass Lothringen 1940 1945 numerous doc and photos give good account on this period
Upon Alsace during the WW II :
Bernard et Gérard LE MAREC L'ALSACE dans la guerre 1939 1945 (Alsace in the war 1939/1945) 286 pages Editions Horvath 1988
in french with a lot of pictures and documents giving a good review of nazification of Alsace in 5 parts (1939 - 1940 evacuation, preparation of war, invasion) (hidden annexion the german policy in Alsace and NSDAP organisations) (daily life in Alsace quite interesting upon day to day life) (resistance and repression) (battle of Alsace)
Upon Lorraine during the WW II :
Bernard et Gérard LE MAREC LES Années noires la Moselle annexée par Hitler documents et Témoignages (The black years - Moselle annexed by Hitler Documents and Testimonies)
in French with a lot of pictures and documents 319 pages Editions Serpenoise 1990
5 parts : La drôle de guerre ( périod from sept 39 - mai 1940), l'annexion (germanisation of the Moselle) , le Gau Westmark (all NS organisations), la vie quotidienne (day to day life), la resistance, la libération (Volksturm and battles)

Georges

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Forst
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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Forst » 07 Nov 2010 17:35

It is a good point to distinguish between general and regional histories. I think there are history accounts for all regions of France some even specialized for example on the French Gestapo in cities such as Marseilles, Bourges and Saint-Etienne. There is at least one book on the crimes committed by Croat troops in a remote village. There is also a six kilogram work on the Holocaust entitled La Shoah en France by Klarsfeld needing translation. The problem is that 90% of these works are not. On the other hand its surprising that there are still no biographies of Doriot or Deat in English. They were central to collaboration. A few years ago there was an interesting book by Laval's daughter written in a diary form. One month she was dining in German-occupied Paris and the next in New York. A very unusual portrayal of the war. Here are a few titles none of which are recent so this is hardly reflective but perhaps provides some indicators:

Vichy France (Paxton)

The Vichy Regime (Aron) - very poor and outdated now

Histoire de Vichy -(Dreyfus) - dubious and poorly received though massive

The Collapse of the Third Republic – Shirer's classic detailed account but dated

France: The Dark Years 1940-44 - excellent by Jackson

La Guerre de Syrie - mediocre

Pétain-Franco – fascinating subject on the two leaders by Seguela

Ministre de La Justice – thick, plodding but important by a justice minister

Otto Abetz et les Français – one of the most monumental works on the subject by Lambauer

Le Nez de Cleopatra – by Xavier Vallet Commissioner for ‘Jewish Affairs’

Mémoires (Brinon) - self-serving but important

I Was There – by Admiral Leahy a useful counter-perspective on Vichy

Pierre Laval (Mallet) detailed and important by one of his former aides

Rappelé au Service - Weygand’s self-righteous memoirs but very important

The Murder of Admiral Darlan – A rather dated and mediocre book

Bucard et le Francisme – the only book on this isolated figure

La Brigade Frankreich – populist novel-like accounts by Jean Mabire on French volunteers

Les Volontaires – Same by Saint-Loup who was a volunteer himself

Is Paris Burning? – wonderfully written but pop history by Dominique Lapierre

Sisters in the Resistance – a 'feminist' perspective

Petain - by C. Williams a decent recent account

Journal 1939-1945 by Drieu la Rochelle fascinating diary by a self-hating literary fascist

The Collaborator by Kaplan on Robert Brasillach

Vichy: Politcal Dilemma - outdated cold war thesis by Farmer

Verdict on Vichy - populist general account by Curtis but useful introduction

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Vikki
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The Devil's Captain: Ernst Jünger in Nazi Paris, 1941-1944

Post by Vikki » 15 Aug 2011 19:40

Has anyone read this new book on Ernst Jünger in Paris? If so, what's your opinion of it?

http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Captain-Er ... 309&sr=1-6

Best regards,

~Vikki

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Georges JEROME » 16 Aug 2011 18:11

Hello,

three master books which up to date the knowledge of the german occupation in France :

Peter LEIB Konventioneller Krieg oder NS Weltanschauungskrieg ? dealing with the conducting of the war and the partisan war in France 1943 1944 Oldenburg 2007 fully referenced

Ulrich Herbert Werner best un nazi de l'ombre (a nazi in the shadow) translation in French updated by the author of his work from 1996. He cover the action of Best as senior leader in the military administration of France from 1940 to 1942

Gaël EISMANN Hotel Majestic. Ordre et Sécurité en France occupée (order and security in occupied France) (1940 1944) this is the best book upon the security policy of Mil Bef Frankreich from 1940 to 1942 then HSSPF from 1942 to 1944 I've red. A University work fully referenced which give extremely precise infos on relationship between french police and germans, SIPO and Military administration based on documents and testimonies.

Georges
Hope he will be translated in german and english. pUblished in 2010.

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by ljadw » 16 Aug 2011 18:47

I would question the importance of Otto Abetz et les Français,because the role of Abetz has been very much overestimated :he only was the liaison man between the German Foreign office and the Militarbefehlshaber .
An othet not unimportant work is:Journal de la France (A.Fabre-Luce)

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Loïc » 16 Aug 2011 20:44

it is really a pity that Peter Lieb's book is not yet translated in french, I don't understand nothing to german but it seems to have a lot of datas about the german units against the Maquis, an other german author Ahlrich Meyer admited in his translated book that the "struggle against the bands in France is still largely ignored" by the historians
usually only regional sources are a great help to find this kind of datas

speaking of largely ignored fightings but french text

La Fin de la Campagne de France
Les combats oubliés des Armées du Centre 15-25 juin 1940
Gilles Ragache
Collection Campagnes & Stratégies n° 81 - Economica 2010


an easy to read and daily account (a chapter by day with several geographical sub-chapters) describing the forgotten operations of the various French Armies and desesperate resistance of the French soldiers nicknamed "red vipers" by the germans after Dunkirk during the most deadly phase of the campaign of France (especially in the "bloody Somme" in the first days of june not covered here) from Normandy, along the Loire to the Massif Central and Rhône valley, so not only the well-known defence of Saumur and short campaign of the Alps, very far to the image given by some propaganda of course
293 pages but unfortunately as usual with this editor in this collection, only five poors very sobers general maps

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The Purist
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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by The Purist » 04 May 2013 18:03

I would agree that Shirer is of limited value for the military side of events. He lacks analysis or any research into the reasons behind decisions made between 1919 and 1939. On the political side he is better, however, his rush to judgement shows his roots as a journalist and not historian. A valuable book but not a definitive work.

Eugenia Kiesling's "Arming Against Hitler" is a must read for understanding the the decisions behind French military planning between 1913 and 1939.

Robert Doughty's "Sedan: The Breaking Point" is excellent for understanding the critical battle on the Meuse. "Seeds of Disaster" is also excellent for undestanding the development of doctrine and the army between the wars (though not quite as good as Keisling)

Judith Hugh's "To the Maginot Line" is focused on the political events of the 1920s and the change in French policy from aggressive to defensive
"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking" - John Maynard Keynes

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by uhu » 11 Aug 2013 05:15

One of the best books I've read in a long time is The Battle of France 1940 . Published 1959, and by Col. A. Goutard it is Very detailed and based on interviews and writings mainly of the French officers. I note that Abe.com has them starting at $4 with free shipping. You can't go wrong on this one.

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Noël Santucci » 20 Jan 2014 04:59

Blitzkrieg Legend by Karl-Heinz Frieser is seminal.

Yes, Robert Doughty is great.

Comme Des Lions by Dominique Lormier. I'm working on translating this into English and would love help in this process.

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by OHara » 29 Apr 2014 06:52

One book that hasn't been mentioned is Pierre Laval and the Eclipse of France (Geoffrey Warner). I found it valuable and it seemed pretty fair to me. I like Jackson's Fall of France better than The Dark Years. Old but still valuable is Our Vichy Gamble (William Langer). Also, if you're interested in Franco-American relations, the Foreign Relations of the United States French volumes are hard to beat. The French literature seems full of booby traps at least to me because my French isn't that great. I read Les derniers jours de Darlan (Jacques Moreau) and du debarquement Africain au meurtre de Darlan (Albert Kammerer). The agenda seems more important than the facts? Maybe some French members who are familiar with those works can comment? On the whole I thought Moreau was more reliable but maybe because my interests are more naval than political. In that regard, I'll also mention the French Navy in World War II (Auphan/Mordal). Continuing with naval books, John Jordan's books on French cruisers and battleships are hard to beat. He's working on destroyers. Also check out his chapter in On Seas Contested (O'Hara/Dickson/Worth).

Vince

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by durb » 17 Dec 2014 16:43

Recommended book in English on French Air Force in 1939-1940? I know something about their fighter planes and pilots, but an overall picture covering also bomber, recce and naval units is interesting. Specially the bombing missions over Germany are interesting detail. And air combats against Italians.

The combat history of Vichy French Air Force against Allied is also rather interesting (Syria,Dakar,North Africa, Madagaskar) - and the exotic detail of airwar between French and Thai during the Franco-Thai borderconflict 1940/41.

Probably there is some good one volume book covering both of the above?

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Loïc
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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Loïc » 18 Jun 2015 18:06

forthcoming GBM 113 (July-Sept. 2015) card cover with the courtesy of François Vauvillier
Image
http://www.histoireetcollections.com/fr ... teriel-gbm

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Haven
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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by Haven » 05 Oct 2015 18:10

Image

From Liberalism to Fascism: The Right in a French Province, 1928-1939
Kevin Passmore
Cambridge University Press
(June 28, 1997)

The Croix de Feu and its successor the Parti social français stood at the center of the political conflict in the final years of the French Third Republic and were widely regarded as the counterpart of fascism in Germany and Italy. Only recently has the view that fascism also has roots in France become a serious topic for debate. From Liberalism to Fascism is based largely on archival research and places French fascism in the wider context of the history of French conservatism. Received views of French social and economic structures are also overturned.

PDF Link of page 1-16: http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/ca ... 043847.pdf

I own the whole book on PDF -- Haven

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Re: Recommended reading on France 1919-1945

Post by OldBill » 11 Oct 2015 03:46

Loic what is the camouflaged vehicle in the lower left hand corner? It looks to be of WWI vintage.

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