Andrew Roberts

O Petain!

England’s Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940–1942


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 490pp £25 order from our bookshop

It is a truism that the 1904 entente cordiale between Britain and France has been one of the most successful alliances in modern history, but, as this book eloquently proves, it entirely broke down for the vital two years between the French armistice with Germany in June 1940 and the German invasion of Vichy France in November 1942. In this excellent account of a woefully under-studied ‘war within a war’, Colin Smith has identified no fewer than fourteen occasions when Britons and Frenchmen fought each other during the Second World War.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,