The Republic in Danger: General Maurice Gamelin and the Politics of French Defence, 1933-1940

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This is the first full-length study in English of the political and strategic influence of one of France's most controversial military leaders, General Maurice Gamelin (1872-1958). Gamelin was reviled by many of his contemporaries and denigrated by two generations of historians as 'the man who lost the Battle of France' in 1940. Here Gamelin is reappraised in the context of the unstable civil-military relations and national decline during 1935-1940 when he had major responsibility for French security. The author bases his account on hitherto inaccessible primary sources in France and Belgium, as well as on public and private archives in Britain and the USA. The evidence reviewed, including Gamelin's private headquarters' diary, provides the basis for a revision of the earlier hostile portraits of the general. The author argues that less attention should be paid to the campaign in France in 1940 by which time Gamelin's role was that of an inter-allied coordinator and senior adviser to the Franco-British Supreme War Council. Rather, he suggests that great credit is due to Gamelin for his success in holding together the pre-war civil-military consensus, and for rearming France by 1939.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This carefully nuanced, scrupulously researched study is written for advanced scholars of modern France." History

"Alexander's mastery of the sources--especially the archival materials--is impressive and his judgements carry considerable authority. ... The author skillfully details the complex and daunting political. diplomatic, and economic obstacles facing both France and Gamelin." American Historical Review

"...this book must be praised as one which should be part of the library of any serious student of twentieth-century France." European Studies Journal

"The Republic in Danger deserves a place in the select list of outstanding studies of military politics in the Third Republic." Times Literary Supplement

"This is a valuable contribution to the scholarship of inter-war France. For starters, it is more than just lucidly written; there is a verve which makes for enjoyable reading. Second, this is a work that owes as much to several national archives--most notably those of France--as it does to the full range of secondary literature. Third, as befits a work that has emerged from years of research, there is much new information." The International History Review

"...the author has produced an impressively researched and well-written book." Canadian Journal of History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521524292
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2003
  • Pages: 587
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Maurice Gamelin, the defence of France and the decline of the Third Republic 1
1 The making of a republican general 13
2 Gamelin and the rebirth of German power 34
3 First responses: defence versus detente in the Laval era 56
4 The Popular Front, the army and politics 80
5 The road to rearmament: Gamelin, Daladier and Popular Front defence policy 110
6 Gamelin and air support of the army 142
7 Gamelin, the Maginot Line and Belgium 172
8 Gamelin, Yugoslavia and the eastern alliances: assets or embarrassments? 210
9 Men or material? Gamelin and British support for France 236
10 Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Soviet Union: from appeasement to war 279
11 Gamelin and the fall of Poland 314
12 The Twilight War: military stagnation and political conflict 348
Conclusion 378
App. 1 Diagrammatic organisation of the French high command 404
App. 2 Distribution of the four-year armaments programme of September 1936 Le programme de 14 milliards 406
Notes 407
Bibliography 518
Index 557
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