• When France Fell

  • The Vichy Crisis and the Fate of the Anglo-American Alliance
  • By: Michael S. Neiberg
  • Narrated by: David de Vries
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

According to US Secretary of War Henry Stimson, the "most shocking single event" of World War II was not the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but rather the fall of France in spring 1940. Michael Neiberg offers a dramatic history of the American response - a policy marked by panic and moral ineptitude, which placed the United States in league with fascism and nearly ruined the alliance with Britain.

The successful Nazi invasion of France destabilized American planners' strategic assumptions. At home, the result was huge increases in defense spending, the advent of peacetime military conscription, and domestic spying to weed out potential fifth columnists. Abroad, the United States decided to work with Vichy France despite its pro-Nazi tendencies. The US-Vichy partnership, intended to buy time and temper the flames of war in Europe, severely strained Anglo-American relations. After the war, the choice to back Vichy tainted US-French relations for decades.

Our collective memory of World War II as a period of American strength overlooks the desperation and faulty decision making that drove US policy from 1940 to 1943. Tracing the key diplomatic and strategic moves of these formative years, When France Fell gives us a more nuanced and complete understanding of the war and of the global position the United States would occupy afterward.

©2021 Michael S. Neiberg (P)2021 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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Proceeds from a faulty premise

Namely, that the US and UK were fundamentally unsympathetic to the German Reich, much less to Vichy. One only need to look at an honest account at the acceptance of refugees from that time to dispense with that notion. And there is a kind of credulous Captain America philosophy coloring the author's viewpoint. At best, in his opinion, America was naive in its reliance on the French military to save western democracy, at worst it sold out or sacrificed human rights for political convenience. Perhaps he failed to notice the less than stellar track record of human rights in the land of the free. Uncritical and clichéd, this book is worth a pass.

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  • Walter King
  • 12-06-21

Petain & the USA

Fascinating story - I had no idea that any of the WW11 allies had any truck with Vichy. How could anyone have thought that such an evil, anti-Semitic regime could rule France after the liberation? My admiration for de Gaulle has increased greatly after listening to this - and for Churchill & Eden for sticking by him, despite de G being so difficult