The author of The Grand Inquest and Sword and Swastika, chief prosecutor of war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials, a foremost authority on the German General Staff, here surveys the first phase of World War II -- from the conquest of Poland to the fall of France and Hitler's peace overture on July 19, 1940 -- tracing the background and course of the apocalyptic events in the spring and summer of 1940 when the Wehrmacht surged across Europe in a conquest, the immediate impact of which was so shattering. He sets himself the task of analyzing, why, in spite of the superb and militarily brilliant tactical handling of the German land, sea and air forces in Norway, the Low Countries and France, the Germans failed to plan for the very contingency of the overwhelming victory which they so rapidly achieved.
That they failed to follow up the Battle of France -- that they, in stalling, permitted the British to recoup after Dunkirk, he attributes to Hitler's instability, the lack of vision of the General Staff, crucial flaws in the basic structure of the Third Reich and finally -- to the paradoxical fact that those directly concerned (, et al) did not have the interests of the Reich primarily at heart. In summary then, the ""true measure of German insufficiency as conquerors was that they did not choose decisively, but tardily and inconclusively"" and therefore ""the summer of 1940 was, in a strategic sense, the turning point of the war."" A formidable, comprehensive within its own set limits, ably executed work, primarily for the historian.