The four years between the military defeat of France by Nazi Germany and D-Day were vital, dramatic and eventful years in Anglo-French relations. These years saw the first armed clashes between France and Britain since the Napoleonic Wars, including the infamous Royal Navy attack on the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. They also saw a curious relationship developing between Britain and Vichy France. Vichy was at once a hostile power, under German domination, and at the same time a porous regime through which British influence on its politics, attitudes towards the Resistance and the transit of British soldiers and airmen through its territory en route to Spain, could flow quite freely. Britain had an ambivalent attitude towards Vichy - obviously adversarial, but also pragmatic. The history of Vichy France is often viewed as a sideshow in the overall context of World War II. However, Peter Mangold here shows that the Vichy attitude towards the allies, especially the British, was ambivalent and complex.
His absorbing and up-to-date account, based on original historical research, highlights the conflicts within the Vichy regime and the ways in which contacts and connections with de Gaulle in London and the British Government were maintained. This exciting and fast-paced book brings to life the major characters in the story - not only Churchill and de Gaulle, but also Macmillan, Petain and Leclerc. In this book, Mangold deftly reassesses the complex international wartime chessboard and, in the process, reveals a little known aspect of the World War II story.
Peter Mangold is a journalist and author and a Senior Associate Member of St Antony's College, Oxford. He is a former member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Research Department and the BBC World Service. He is the author of The Almost Impossible Ally: Harold Macmillan and Charles de Gaulle.
Winner of the Franco-Anglo Society Enid McLeod Book Prize 2013
‘Anyone wishing to understand the tortuous, love-hate relationship between David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy today will find all they need to know in Peter Mangold's gripping study of the wartime Anglo-French relationship… written with exemplary brio and clarity, [this book] does much to explain the complexities of our rocky relationship with our near, not-so-dear, Gallic neighbor.’
Nigel Jones, Spectator
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdHardback
Publication Date: 30 Nov 2010
Number of Pages: 288
Illustrations: 16 integrated halftones, 5 maps, 1 table