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French Battleships, 1922–1956

French Battleships, 1922–1956 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2021 Title French Battleships, 1922–1956
Author John Jordan, Robert Dumas Publisher Seaforth Publishing
Published 2021 ISBN 9781526793829
Format 232 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $34.95


French Battleships, 1922–1956, co-authors John Jordan and Robert Dumas contend, “aims to bring the results of Robert Dumas’ original research, first published in a series of French language monographs ... to English-speaking readers”.

And succeed it does.

Available in North America from Casemate, the illuminating, intriguing account from Seaforth Publishing chronicles France’s last two battleship classes in nine chunky chapters over 232 picture-packed pages.

Contents commence with background sections on French dreadnoughts and post-WWI disarmament and treaty considerations – including antecedent design concepts.

The lavishly illustrated saga swiftly segues to core coverage: the radical Dunkerque and Strasbourg battlecruisers, and Richelieu and Jean Bart battleships.

Emerging enemy threats – Nazi Germany’s Deutschland-class “pocket battleships” and Fascist Italy’s new and modernized battleships – fueled development of both capital ship classes.

Text traces the rationale, design, construction, service, and fates of France’s vessels.

Propulsion. Armor. Armament. Camouflage. Modifications. Even politics. And more. Authors address all key design and operational concerns.

Analysis understandably accents the novel disposition of main gun turrets. And action accounts naturally probe the consequences of French design decisions in combat conditions.

But hundreds of fascinating factoids actually dominate the narrative.

We discover, for instance, how French ingenuity made Richelieu’s hull completely watertight after sustaining serious damage in fighting at Dakar. And we learn why Jean Bart oddly received an overall coat of yellow after escaping St. Nazaire for Casablanca during the Battle of France.

The admirably annotated, indexed effort sports hundreds of photos and close-up shots. Color profiles, drawings, and schematics offer detail enthusiasts excellent references. And maps, tables, sidebars, captions, and chronologies further spice the survey.

What a superb study. I enjoyed every word.

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Seaforth Publishing for this review sample!