Review- Case Red: The Collapse of France

Case Red: The Collapse of France by Robert Forczyk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been wanting to read this book for years. Now that I am unemployed but still with enough disposable income, the time has come. Military historians have been exploring this issue for years and I am interesting to find any fresh insights.

The narrative of the Fall of France is usually from a perspective that highlights the Wehrmacht’s superior tactics, operational science, and strategy despite drawbacks such as still not having a fully mechanized force (relying on foot infantry), inferior equipment compared to the French and British counterparts. The French are always faulted on reliance on fixed defenses and moral decay of the Third Republic. That is what is accepted as history.

The story then ends with the British triumph of Operation Dynamo as the Royal Navy and thousands of sailing enthusiasts rally to take the trapped British and French soldiers off the beaches of Dunkirk.

Forczyk doesn’t rest on these assumptions. Indeed, there is much more. The author begins the story back in the 1930s where the British and French made vastly erroneous assumptions about how the next war will be fought. The British were relying on the French, the French hiding their inability to produce the war machine that Britain was counting on, and the Belgians with their own agendas. Then there is Hitler and we all know how that played out.

I see where Forcyzk is squarely laying the blame in two British and French generals: Brooke and Weygand and, possibly a third, to a certain extent Marshal Petain. British General Brooke won’t cooperate with the French and even defied Churchill. Weygand was a defeatist and unable to make reasonable plans.

Even after a second BEF was thrown into the fight, it did little and had to be evacuated not long after arriving. Worse, what the British and French left behind in the botched evacuation meant a giant windfall to the Germans. What the Germans gained was enough to replace their losses and prepare for the next ground war: Greece and eventually Russia. Danke Viele!!

All in all, a must-read for all World War 2 historians.

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