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A History of World War II
Volume 1 : 1940, from Despair to Hope

The destiny of Europe was decided in 1940. Seventy years later, Max Gallo brings back to life those terrible, yet still largely unknown twelve months in history.

January 1940: the ‘phony war’ between France and Germany has begun, an endless waiting period instigated by Hitler, a trap for the Allied armies.

In May, the war becomes Blitz Krieg, or ‘lightning war’, an onslaught under which France can’t help but crumble like a house of cards. The population takes to the exodus roads.
It’s the abyss, a strange defeat.

Max Gallo brings to life the voices of all the actors of history with the tale of these tragic months. The French generals, caught in the traps of their past. Politicians who take advantage of defeat to settle old scores. A jubilant Hitler, Rommel’s advance with the panzers. Marshall Pétain, hailed as the saviour, who campaigns for the armistice.
The abyss. And yet, hope is rising from the pit of despair.

The Saumur cadets are fighting for honour as the world crashes down around them. General De Gaulle calls out on June 18th: “The fire of the French resistance must not be extinguished”. And then there’s Churchill, raging incarnation of English determination, which calls to arms and ressuscitates courage.

History is here, alive, and its witnesses are vibrantly brought back to life by Max Gallo.
A powerful, dark, stunning narrative.


“Gallo takes our breath away.”
Pleine Vie

“Page after page, the reader trembles, and quivers. As if we were there…”
Le Figaro Littéraire


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