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Three Republics One Navy: A Naval History of France 1870-1999
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Three Republics One Navy: A Naval History of France 1870-1999 (Hardback)

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Synopsis

In the 1870s, to supplement their early steam engines, French warships were still rigged for sail. In the 1970s the Marine Nationale's ships at sea included aircraft carriers operating supersonic jets, and intercontinental ballistic missile submarines propelled by nuclear engines. Within this one hundred years, the Marine has played important roles in the acquisition of Asian and African colonial empires; until 1900 the lead role in a naval 'Cold War' against Great Britain; in 1904-1920 preparation, largely Mediterranean-based for, and participation in a Paris agenda in the First World War; a spectacular modernisation unfortunately incomplete in the inter-war years; division, tragic self-destruction and a rebirth in the Second World War; important roles in the two major decolonisation campaigns of Indochina and Algeria; and finally in the retention of major world power status with power-projection roles in the late 20th century, requiring a navy with both nuclear age and traditional amphibious operational capabilities. The enormous costs involved were to lead to reductions and a new naval relationship with Great Britain at the end of the 20th Century.



These successive radical changes were set against political dispute, turmoil and in the years 1940 to 1942, violent division. Political leaders from the 19th Century imperialists to the Fifth Republic sought a lead role for France or if not, sufficient naval power to effectively influence allies and world affairs. Domestic economic difficulties more than once led to unwise`navy on the cheap' policies and construction programmes. The major post-1789 rift in French society appears occasionally among crews on board ships, in docks and builders yards, and in 1919-1920 open munities in ships at sea.



In this work the author has tried to weave together these very varied strands into a history of a navy whose nation's priorities have more often been land frontier defence, the navy undervalued with a justifiable pride in its achievements poorly recognised. A study of the history of the Marine is also useful and important contribution to wider studies of French national history over thirteen tumultuous decades.

Anthony Clayton was a lecturer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst from 1965 to 1993 and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Surrey from 1994 to 2008. He was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of St. Andrews. He served in the colonial Government of Kenya until 1963 and in the Territorial Army in the infantry and later in the Intelligence Corps, finishing as a lieutenant-colonel. He has published works on British and French military history, among them "The British Empire as a Superpower 1919-1939" and "The British Officer from 1660 to the Present"; "France, Soldiers and Africa: The Wars of French Decolonisation"; "Paths to Glory: The French Army 1914-1918" and "Three Marshals of France". For his work on the French military he was made a Chevalier in the Odre des Palmes Academiques. He was also awarded the Medal of Honour of the Gesellschaft zur Forderung des Wiedevaufbaus der Frauenkirche Dresden for his work for the Dresden Trust. His other works include chapters in the Oxford History of the British Empire and the Cambridge History of War, 'Warfare in Woods and Forests'. Anthony Clayton is a widower visited frequently by his son, daughter and grandchildren. He lives with a cavalier King Charles spaniel in Farnham, Surrey.

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