Porch, Douglas 1944–
Porch, Douglas 1944–
PERSONAL: Born December 29, 1944, in Tallahassee, FL; son of Ralph Douglas (a lawyer) and Jean (Lance) Porch; married Francoise Lamoureux (a university teacher), July 27, 1978; children: Charles Douglas. Education: University of the South, B.A., 1967; Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Ph.D., 1971; also attended Ecole Normale superieure, Paris, France, 1971–72.
CAREER: Writer and professor. University of Wales, University College, Aberystwyth, research fellow, 1972–73, lecturer, 1973–82, senior lecturer in history, beginning 1982; Naval War College, Newport, RI, professor of strategy; The Citadel, Charleston, SC, Mark Clark Chair of History; Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, professor of national security affairs and chair of Department of National Security Affairs. Lecturer at United States Marine Corps University, Quantico, VA, and U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA. Military service: U.S. Army Reserve, 1967–74.
Army and Revolution: France, 1815–1848, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1974.
The Making of a Military Revolutionary, Croom Helm (London, England), 1974.
The Portuguese Armed Forces and the Revolution, Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA), 1977.
The Conquest of Morocco, Knopf (New York, NY), 1983.
The Conquest of the Sahara, Knopf (New York, NY), 1984.
The French Foreign Legion: A Complete History of the Legendary Fighting Force, HarperCollins Publishers (New York, NY), 1991.
Wars of Empire, Cassell (London, England), 2000.
The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (New York, NY), 2004.
Hitler's Mediterranean Gamble: The North African and Mediterranean Campaigns in World War II, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Douglas Porch has published a number of books on military history and related subjects. French military history is one of his areas of particular interest. Porch argues in The French Secret Services: From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War that France's decline from world power to secondary country over the course of the twentieth century can be linked to the decline of that country's intelligence-gathering organizations, which are under the control of the French Army. In his study, Porch considers the whole of the history of intelligence gathering in France. Even before World War I, there was a tension between French political leaders and its spies, which led to distrust of the information spies gathered, and increasingly ineffective French espionage. Of Porch's work, Jay Freeman of Booklist wrote: "He is … a highly skilled writer blessed with a sharp sense of irony and the ability to find interesting aspects in the seemingly mundane affairs of state."
Many of Porch's historical treatises consider topics related to World War II. In Hitler's Mediterranean Gamble: The North African and Mediterranean Campaigns in World War II, the author analyzes the events surrounding British leader Winston Churchill's decision to draw Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany into battle in the Mediterranean when Germany was positioned to invade England. Though a risk, Churchill's move paid off, especially after the United States entered the war and helped complete the invasion of Italy. Germany lost many troops as a result of the campaign. Calling it an "excellent book," Noble Frankland of the Spectator maintained that "Porch is on the whole attractively evenhanded in dealing with a highly complex subject although, when he comes to the French, he reveals a soft spot in his heart."
Porch steps back to look at the whole of the Mediterranean campaign in The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II. Not only does he discuss this part of the war, but also its consequences up until the Cold War. Porch considers every aspect, from the battles and strategy to policy, mistakes made, and the effect on the players involved. He believes the successes in the Mediterranean theater were key to the Allies's ultimate victory. The reviewer in Publishers Weekly commented: "Porch's terrific book asks what the odds of success would have been had D-Day been mounted without the Mediterranean campaigns under the allies' belt, with unproven leaders, untested troops, and immature weapons systems."
Porch once told CA: "In my books, I explore the social and institutional roots of the political attitudes of officers in France and Portugal, to give military history another dimension and to demonstrate the links between armies and their societies. In The Conquest of Morocco I examined the development of a doctrine of colonial warfare that today we would call" hearts and minds, "to demonstrate that its origins were more political than military, and that it never provided an effective counter-insurgency tactic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 1995, Jay Freeman, review of The French Secret Services: From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War, p. 1915.
Publishers Weekly, February 16, 2004, review of The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II, p. 158.
Spectator, July 17, 2004, Noble Frankland, review of Hitler's Mediterranean Gamble: The North African and Mediterranean Campaigns in World War II, p. 33.