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Using archival research, unpublished papers, and interviews, British journalist Vet. tier carefully but ploddingly reconstructs the events surrounding the 1942 murder of Jean-Francois Darlan, commander in chief of Vichy French military forces during that year. As background, Verrier delves into policy differences between Winston Churchill and FDR over relations with Vichy France and the status of French possessions in North Africa during WW II. Darlan, a self-serving Vichy officer, became the focal point of their disagreements because he controlled the French Mediterranean fleet and was prepared to use it as a bargaining chip. Verrier is scornful of Roosevelt's schemes to induce the admiral to accept Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. On the other hand, he applauds Churchill's steadfast opposition to Vichy France, his attempts to undermine Roosevelt's dealings with the tainted admiral, and his support of the self-anointed, defiant leader of the French resistance, Charles de Gaulle. (Verrier disputes the prevailing view that Churchill considered abandoning de Gaulle to placate Roosevelt.) The author goes on to show how Operation Torch became Darian's springboard to power. His repressive rule led disgruntled British and possibly American intelligence to hatch conspiracies among the disorganized French North Africans, culminating in Gaullist Fernand Bonnier's assassination of the admiral. According to Verrier, Darlan's murder widened the rift between Churchill and Roosevelt and benefited de Gaulle. Insightful but dry. The appended glossary of wartime acronyms will prove essential to most general readers as they wend through the thicket of unfamiliar organizations and personalities.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1990
Publisher: Norton