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Professor Andrew Knapp – University of Reading

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Professor Andrew Knapp

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I retired from the University and became an Emeritus Professor on 1 September 2015.   I remain active in academic research and writing.

Areas of Interest

My research interests include French government and politics, especially political parties, (with recent articles on the Chirac and Sarkozy presidencies and the French Right after its 2012 defeat, and a further piece due on the Right in the 2017 elections), and contemporary French history, especially the wartime and postwar periods.

I have worked and published extensively in English and French on the Allied bombing of France between 1940 and 1945 (see the website at and my blogpost on France took the equivalent (in tonnage of bombs) of nearly eight Blitzes from British and American bombers, and suffered over 57,000 dead in this period; my primary interest has been to find out why the Allies undertook these raids and how the French, the Vichy state and the Resistance responded. As well as publications in print (the most recent of which, undertaken with a team of French, American, British and German researchers, appeared in 2016),  this work has fed into two French documentaries, one on the bombing of Nantes ( and one, shown on prime time in 2014, on the whole of France ( A further documentary, on the bombing of Le Havre, is due to be broadcast in 2017-2018.  In addition, my interest in the varied national and regional memories of Europe’s bombing war has led to two substantial articles, one of which was published in 2016.

As well as my ongoing bombing studies, I am currently working on a short biography of de Gaulle.


Academic availability

I am open to invitations to talk, write, or examine theses in my areas of interest.


Research groups / Centres

Before retiring I took part in a major AHRC-funded joint research project on Bombing, States and Peoples in Western Europe, 1940-45, covering the effects of Allied bombing on French civilians and the reactions of the Vichy state and the Free French. 

I was also part of the Reading-based 'Liberal Way of War' programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and co-edited, with Professor Hilary Footitt, a study of Liberal Democracies at War and how they represent conflict to their citizens (2013).

I am currently working with Professor Pavel Kolář of the European University Institute, Florence, on patterns of Consolidation of Power in Post-1945 Europe.



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  • BA in History (Cambridge, 1976)
  • D.Phil in Politics (Oxford, 1984)
  • Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques (2010)

I have taught in Isfahan, Iran, at the Le Havre Business School, and at two different universities in Paris, as well as working for Oxford University Press, before being appointed to the Department of French Studies (now part of the Department of Languages and Cultures) at Reading in 1990.

I served as a member of the Franco-British Council from 2006 to 2012 and on the Council of the Centre d'études sur la vie politique française (CEVIPOF) from 2008 to 2012. I became an Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2010.

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