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Paperback Norway 1940 Book

ISBN: 0803277873

ISBN13: 9780803277878

Norway 1940

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Book Overview

In the late 1930s, as Europe moved toward war, the peaceful kingdom of Norway found itself strategically vital to the interests of Germany, France, and Great Britain. Though Norway was strictly neutral, in April 1940 Britain and France mined Norwegian territorial waters to prevent supplies from reaching Germany. Immediately, the German Reich invaded the militarily weak Norway. Norway 1940 shows the country fighting valiantly, assisted by the Allies...

Customer Reviews

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The Fall of Norway

This paperback edition of Francois Kersaudy's 1987 book "Norway 1940" is a gripping and even emotional account of the fall of Norway. Kersaudy, a French historian, has provided the story from the points of view of the principal British, French, German, and Norwegian participants. The story that emerges is of a military fiasco for the allies, a national catastrophe for the Norwegians, and a costly and ultimately less than useful military conquest for the Germans. In the spring of 1940, Britain and France were engaged in a "phoney war" with Germany along a quiet Western Front. Britain's desire to secure the sea space around the British Isles led inevitably to pressures on Norway's neutrality. It is Kersaudy' thesis that the liberation of British prisoners of war from the German ship Alta in Norwegian waters in February 1940 triggered a German invasion in early April. German interest in Norway in fact preceded the Alta incident and the well-planned invasion of Norway by Germany in April 1940 preempted a British intervention there by only hours to days. The Norwegians, who had relied on their status as neutrals, were caught flat-footed by the German invasion and thrown back from the principal cities in southern Norway. Their appeals for help were answered by the British and French, but as Kersaudy brings out, in a clumsy and ultimately ineffective manner. The strength of Kersaudy's history is his account of the inability of the British and French governments to make timely and effective decisions with respect to Norway. This failure contributed to the eventual ouster of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the rise to power of Winston Churchill. The Norwegians showed remarkable tenacity in the face of defeat. Their scattered and outnumbered forces fought gallantly but could not prevent a five year occupation of Norway by the Germans. As Kersaudy points out, the conquest of Norway was probably not an efficient expenditure of military resources for Germany. Germany never made good its considerable naval losses in the Norwegian campaign, and became committed to a disproportionately large occupation force. Kersaudy is an effective, even gripping writer. The text is supplemented with a nice selection of maps, diagrams, and photographs. This book is highly recommended to the student of the Second World War and to the casual reader looking for a highly readable account of the fall of Norway.

Norwegian History: Norway 1940 (World War II)

If you are interested in serious history, especially about Norway and World War II, then this is a book for you. This will give you background information about the war in Norway, so that you will have a better understanding about other Norwegian resistance books such as Silent Patriot, Report from #24, Assault in Norway, Skis Against the Atom, The Shetland Bus, We Die Alone, and The Sledge Patrol.

An Alarming Aptitude for Blundering

Among the forgotten ordeals of WWII for many is the Scandanavian theatre of 1940, an area that was blistered by war following the post-poland "Sitzkrieg" but that briefly preceded the Blitz of the west. At the top of the list of narratives involving this theatre lies Kersaudy's book, a marvelous overview of the Norway campaign from conception to conclusion, with emphasis placed on the staggering of the allies who are shown to have acted in alarming incompetence throughout the campaign. Observing their inaptitude for defending Norway and the disorganized and ineffective strategies that changed day by day with contrasting orders being given to different commanders, one cannot help but develop a sympathy for the overwhelmed and disrespected Norwegians. Also interesting is the discussion of the planning for the operation inside Hitler's high command, a portion of the book that provides a uique glimpse into the heart of the third reich at the height of its power. I can certifiably recommend this book strongly to anyone with a fascination in WWII, military or European history, and I'm certain after reading it that you will not be disappointed (in the book itself, for with the allies I am sure you will be disgusted)

An Amazing Study of Military Incompetence

This is an excellent overview of the British, French, German and Norwegian war campaigns in Norway in the spring of 1940. This remarkable campaign began with the British and French trying to cut off Axis iron ore supplies, which in winter came from Sweden through Norway to Germany, and ended with a decisive German victory. It is an amazing study of military incompetence on the part of Norway, Britain and France, and substantial competence on the part of the Germans.The initial planning for the campaign by the British was astonishingly amateurish. The political leadership both micromanaged and failed to make major decisions simultaneously. Adding to the tension and complications were the French, desperate for the effort to take place because it would largely be the responsibility of the British.With our perspective dominated by the stunning German defeat of France in May of 1940, it is hard for us to remember the earlier contemplations that year by the Allied military of campaigns in Sweden, Rumania and the Soviet Caucuses. There were serious advocates in France for attacking the Soviet Union to cut off German supplies. There seems to have been a blind faith at that time that the Allies would hold in Northeastern France and could focus on strangling the Germans.This was a campaign in which the British resolutely refused to trust or listen to the Norwegians. Their generals operated with tourist maps, and the communications were so bad that the unified commander was actually in London because no place in Norway could reliably communicate with any place else.This is also a campaign in which the British Army commander was working under instructions that were directly opposite those given to the British naval commander. It is a great study in the need for unified command and a joint doctrine. As a study in the follies of democracies in peacetime, the Norwegian failure to have any reliable defenses is a classic. The Germans were effective and professional but they were helped a lot by three allies who were amateurish, incompetent, and with deeply divided (and normally dishonest to one another) councils of war.

Basis for a great movie script?

On April 9, 1940, the Germans attacked Norway - two months later, the war in Norway was over. As Kersaudy points out (p.227) "the only substantial - and even decisive - advantage that Great Britain was to draw from [the] ill-fated undertaking was the replacement of Neville Chamberlain by Winston Churchill. Indeed, nothing other than the dismal story of setbacks suffered in Norway could have led to the resignation of Chamberlain before 10 May 1940". Zeroing in on a very small, but strategically important theater of World War II, Kersaudy paints a tragic-comic picture of the conflict in excruciating detail. The valiant Norwegian military forces under General Ruge were hamstrung by their own incompetent politicians, and "allies" (?) who were worse than useless. The British squabbled with the French, and then the British generals and politicians quarreled with each other. New plans were substituted for old plans while the old plans were in the midst of execution. Polish `mountain troops' who had never seen a mountain were sent to the Narvik theater, as well as French Chasseurs Alpins who were short of skis and snowshoes. Ships were loaded with the wrong supplies, in illogical sequences, and diverted to locations where their contents were not needed. --- None of this should have been too surprising. In the introduction to "Norway 1940", Kersaudy states: "The French... could find in their "Dictionnaire des arts et métiers" a rather peculiar map of Scandinavia: Sweden remained nameless, but Norway was called... Sweden! The Germans did little better, since the capital of Norway was nowhere to be seen on their maps... In 1940 the [British] Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, glancing at a map of Scandinavia, was still mistaking the Norwegian border for a railway line." ---- This book is history at its best: detailed, incisive, with context as well as personalities. At times detailing the action on an hour-by-hour basis, it could easily be the basis of a fantastic movie script - for much of the action seems cinematic. "Norway 1940" contains a wealth of very comprehensive campaign maps and well-selected photographs, of military action as well as portraits of `the players'. (One of the most fascinating candid photos is Norwegian King Haakon and his son Price Olav running through a snowy field for cover during a German air attack on April 11th!) Take time to read this book - it is well worth it! (P.S. Have a pad and pen close by; keeping track of the players and the action requires more memory than most will be able to muster).
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