Erik Graff's Reviews > The Murder of Admiral Darlan: A Study in Conspiracy

The Murder of Admiral Darlan by Peter Tompkins
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's review
Nov 15, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Recommended for: Einar Graff
Read in March, 2011 , read count: 1

My father spent part of WWII in North Africa with the Army Signal Corps, for which he was a cryptanalyst. As such he was attached to command ships for communications with troops on the ground, participating in the invasions of Sicily and of the Philippines. It was after the former that he was based in Oran for what appears to have been the most pleasant portion of his wartime service.

The author of this book, an O.S.S. officer involved in some of the events described, traces French and Allied politics in Metropolitan France, especially North Africa, from the fall of France up until the invasion of Sicily, focusing on Torch, the Allied invasion in November of 1942, and its aftermath.

The story told was substantially new to me. I had not realized, for instance, that those who came to run Vichy had, many of them, collaborated with the Nazis prior to the war, that, in fact, the plan was to utilize the defeat of the Republic as a means to establish a fascist French government protective of their business interests. Nor had I realized that so many Vichy officials had, upon discovering Allied plans for invasion, attempted, often successfully, to change sides in the last minute, hedging their bets in case the Allies lost. Commander of the French fleet, Admiral Darlan, was one of these. Finally, I had not realized the extent of Allied division over whom to collaborate with, the U.K. promoting de Gaulle, the U.S.A. a General Giraud.

Although I found this book fascinating, I also found it somewhat difficult. For one thing, it was difficult to keep track of all the persons and organizations participating in the various conspiracies. This complexity, however, was probably unavoidable as the situations obtaining were complex, the figures significantly involved many. Furthermore, the author chose to give the back-story about the pre-war collaboration between French and German fascists at the end of the book. This was justifiable in that that conspiracy only came out during post-war investigations, but it does leave prior account murky. One could profitably read the book twice because of this arrangement of information.

I won't. Dad just turned ninety. I plan to give the book to him at the birthday party soon to happen.
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