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subservient to the politicians who courted an electorate which loathed war but was not ready to pay for peace, while an out-of-date armament industry existed on high protective tariffs.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.
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
Any additional comments?
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Why France Collapsed?
Listening to the Narrator read was painful. The constant and repeated mispronunciation of French names and words was abysmal. Not a bit wrong, but so wrong that on occasion I couldn't work out who the narrator was referring to.
What was most disappointing about Guy Chapman’s story?
I cannot comment on the story. I only listened to about 90 minutes of the book as after that I couldn't listen any more it was so annoying.
How could the performance have been better?
If there are foreign names in the booked, especially if the book is about a foreign country, find a narrator who has even the slightest clue about the linguistic pronounciation before you employ them.
What character would you cut from Why France Collapsed?
Any additional comments?
I want my money back or another recording of the same book by someone else.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Now, if it were me commissioning the audiobook of the French collapse in 1940, I'd have picked an actor who could actually speak French. But who knows what guides the course of audio productions?
Chris MacDonnell has a nice, listenable voice but mangles practically every single French name and quote to make this utterly unlistenable, despite my strong interest in the material. Guy Chapman must be turning in his grave.
I bought this on the fly and bitterly regretted not having read the reviews, all of which mention the same issue. Time to take this DOWN and use a narrator who can pronounce Clemenceau (we get Clem-on-KO), Poincare (Poyn-CArray) and Petain (Pet-AYn). If you know anything about this period of history you'd know that listening to just those three names mispronounced over and over and over again would be 'insupportable' on their own, leaving aside the terror of entire sentences of hideous garbled rubbish masquerading as French.
Should an excellent listen, material-wise, but I am left wanting my money back for this one. AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!
2 of 3 people found this review helpful