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When France Fell

When France Fell

The Vichy Crisis and the Fate of the Anglo-American Alliance

Michael S. Neiberg

ISBN 9780674293885

Publication date: 10/10/2023

Winner of the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award

“Deeply researched and forcefully written . . . deftly explains the confused politics and diplomacy that bedeviled the war against the Nazis.”—Wall Street Journal

“Neiberg is one of the very best historians on wartime France, and his approach to the fall of France and its consequences is truly original and perceptive as well as superbly written.”—Antony Beevor, author of The Second World War

“An utterly gripping account, the best to date, of relations within the turbulent triumvirate of France, Britain, and America in the Second World War.”—Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

The “most shocking single event” of World War II, according to US Secretary of War Henry Stimson, was not the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but the fall of France in the spring of 1940. The Nazi invasion of France destabilized Washington’s strategic assumptions, resulting in hasty and desperate decision-making. Michael Neiberg offers a dramatic history of America’s bewildering response—policies that placed the United States in league with fascism and nearly ruined its alliance with Britain.

FDR and his advisors naively believed they could woo Vichy France’s decorated wartime leader, Marshal Philippe Pétain, and prevent the country from becoming a formal German ally. The British, convinced that the Vichy government was fully subservient to Nazi Germany, chose to back Charles de Gaulle and actively financed and supported the Resistance. After the war, America’s decision to work with the Vichy regime cast a pall over US-French relations that lasted for decades.


  • Deeply researched and forcefully written…shed[s] light on an embarrassing period in American diplomacy…Neiberg offers a mesmerizing account of how the U.S., as it anticipated another European war, stumbled through attempts to neutralize Vichy France…Neiberg deftly explains the confused politics and diplomacy that bedeviled the war against the Nazis.

    —Ronald C. Rosbottom, Wall Street Journal


  • 2022, Joint winner of the Distinguished Book Award - Military History


  • Michael S. Neiberg is the award-winning author of Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe, Fighting the Great War, and Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I, among other books. He is Professor of History and the inaugural Chair of War Studies at the US Army War College.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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