Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore - review by Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer

France’s Retreat

Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man


Viking 701pp £25

There are two problems with the Dunkirk myth, and the passing of sixty-six years seems to have done little to solve them. The first is whether it is a myth at all, or whether a huge victory really was snatched from what, on paper, looks to have been a pretty serious defeat for the British, escaping after an ignominious retreat. The second is how far the French betrayed the British, or the British the French, or how far the fortunes of war made everything mutable. This substantial and highly readable book by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore helps the reader towards a reliable estimate of both points, which is not the least of its virtues.

The author starts with the phoney war, explaining how the French and the British strategists were to an extent trapped in the prism of 1918, and never appreciated how in respect of philosophical and material ruthlessness the German enemy had changed for the worse. The Belgians, too, as the buffer

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