THE SECOND WORLD WAR by Henri Michel

THE SECOND WORLD WAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Michel has probably digested more material on this subject with less historical curiosity than any living writer. The Secretary-General of the French Council on the History of the Second World War, he achieves 914 pages of pseudo-objectivity. Whereas even the pro-British Liddell Hart wonders out loud whether England had not tempted the Germans to take Norway, and most historians credit FDR with more than benign idealism, Michel sticks to his blank ""and then, and then's."" Forfeiting a sense of political economy or diplomatic nuance, Michel falls into obvious blunders, as when he says that ""the chief target of persistent Allied attacks"" was German heavy industry (rather than civilian populations). And he makes such dubious assertions as that Sweden was ""unable to refuse the Reich's requests"" and that ""in his heart of hearts"" Vichy's Marshal Petain was pro-Ally. Strategies are cut-and-dried while character as a determinant is reduced to Michel's partiality for Montgomery despite his caution. The material on the resistance (the author's forte) presents a simplistic interpretation -- that repression plus favorable terrain created it. Inferior to Chester Wilmot's early one-volume study, The Struggle for Europe (1952) and on all counts many notches below Liddell Hart's History of the Second Worm War (1971).

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Praeger