Arming Against Hitler: France and the Limits of Military Planning
By Eugenia C. Kiesling
University Press of Kansas, 1996, 260 pp.
The fall of France in 1940 continues to fascinate students of warfare: how did a country rated to have the most powerful army in Europe crumble in a few weeks under the hammer blows of the Wehrmacht? Many able historians have tackled this subject, but few have done so with Kiesling's brio and shrewdness. Describing her scholarly strategy as one of "a blitzkrieg of archival firepower on certain narrow fronts," Kiesling has written a masterful account of how the French military deceived itself on a number of levels, from high-order military doctrine to mundane matters of training and equipment. The ease of movement among these levels of analysis, the depth of research, and the pungent clarity of the prose make this a book at once important and engrossing. All in all, a superb work that will find its place as one of the indispensable books on the subject.