Philip Nord, Princeton University, assesses France’s diplomatic and military preparations for war with Germany, its conduct of the war once the fighting began, and the political consequences of defeat on the battlefield. He also tracks attitudes among French leaders once defeat seemed a likelihood, identifying who among them took advantage of the nation’s misfortunes to sabotage democratic institutions and plot an authoritarian way forward. Nord finds that the longstanding view that France’s collapse was due to military unpreparedeness and a decadent national character is unsupported by fact.
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