Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, Author . Harvard Univ. $35 (701p) ISBN 978-0-674-02439-7

Sebag-Montefiore (Enigma: The Battle for the Code ) exploits a gap in the voluminous Dunkirk historiography for this first-rate account of the British troops that stayed behind to protect one of history's most dramatic and timely rescues. The German blitzkrieg that swept into Western Europe in May 1940 trapped the main body of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in Belgium and scattered the demoralized French army. Cut off and with their backs to the sea, the BEF miraculously slipped the German noose and made it to Dunkirk where they were evacuated. Eschewing the traditional focus on the Royal Navy and the flotilla of private vessels that rescued the BEF, the author tells the story of "the forgotten heroes" who fought "until their ammunition ran out" to cover their comrades' retreat. Against daunting odds, they undertook countless "suicide missions... to keep the corridor to Dunkirk open." And, while "[h]ardly any... made it back to the beaches," their sacrifice saved the BEF. By the time the last ship left Dunkirk on June 2, 288,000 soldiers—including 193,000 from the BEF—had been evacuated. Drawing upon exhaustive research, the author portrays rescue in vivid, often harrowing, terms. 40 halftones, 21 maps not seen by PW . (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/25/2006
Release date: 11/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 720 pages - 978-0-14-102437-0
Paperback - 701 pages - 978-0-674-02971-2
Paperback - 720 pages - 978-0-241-97226-7
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