Two Roads to War: The French and British Air Arms from Versailles to Dunkirk

Robin Higham. U.S. Naval Institute, $35.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-61251-058-3
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Higham, a doyen of air power history (100 Years of Air Power and Aviation), makes another significant contribution with this comparative analysis of French and British policies and developments between the world wars. Eschewing the conventional emphasis on equipment, doctrine, and strategy, Higham presents a convincing case that the crucial differences were structural. France failed to create administrative and fiscal systems able to match the requirements of modernization. Labor-management relations were fundamentally antagonistic. Engine and airframe designs were developed, but incompletely tested and never ordered in sufficient quantity. “What France needed was a new style of capitalism,” Higham concludes. What it needed as well was more serious thought on how a future war might be waged. Britain, with a broader and more entrepreneurial structure of industry and commerce, was better able to respond to developments in aviation and electronics. Recognizing the profit motive allowed for redundancy. Backups existed for disabled facilities and inadequate material. Britain had stable governments and was able to match policy and funding systematically if not always perceptively. Unlike in France, Higham notes, stability produced a strong leader in Winston Churchill. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-61251-085-9
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