Book Review – ‘From Versailles to Mers El-Kebir: The promise of Anglo-French naval cooperation, 1919–40’ by Frank Scott
This book is unusual in that its American author covers Anglo-French naval relations of this period from the French viewpoint. Moreover he specializes in French naval history, is at home in their archives, and has previously written a relevant (albeit controversial) biography, Darlan: Admiral and statesman of France.
However, his attempt to cover all the twists and turns of the Anglo-French naval relationship between 1919 and 1940 is perhaps too ambitious within the constraints of this volume. Thus the tragic denouement at Mers el-Kébir (Oran) is covered here in about 60 pages, while by comparison Arthur Marder was able to devote over 100 pages to the same subject in From the Dardanelles to Oran. More space for serious analysis and reflection is needed in many areas.
It seems that a rather unusual form of appeasement came to be espoused by Darlan, whereby everything should have been done to avoid war with Germany, while war with Italy was almost desirable. The author, who supports Darlan’s position …