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D-Day, June 6, 1944

The Allied Forces land at Normandy to begin to reclaim Europe from the Nazis.
These are the best books on the topic.

Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy,  Stephen E. Ambrose's D-Day: June 6, 1944 relies on over 1,400 interviews with veterans, as well as prodigious research in military archives on both sides of the Atlantic.   He provides a comprehensive history of the invasion which also eloquently testifies as to how common soldiers performed extraordinary feats.    A major theme of the book, upon which Ambrose would later expand in Citizen Soldiers, is how the soldiers from the democratic Allied nations rose to the occasion and outperformed German troops thought to be invincible.   The many small stories that Ambrose collected from paratroopers, sailors, infantrymen, and civilians make the excitement, confusion, and sheer terror of D-day come alive on the page. --Robert McNamara

From Booklist , April 1, 1994
An expert on D-Day, Ambrose heads a premier oral history archive based in New Orleans.    He has written invasion-related narratives on both the macro (a two-volume biography of General Eisenhower, 1983 and 1991) and the micro (Band of Brothers: E Company, 501st Regiment, 1992)  scales.   This fiftieth anniversary salvo brackets the big and small as it finds the range on its target: the critical first hours of American landings on Utah and Omaha Beaches, and concurrent paratroop drops behind the lines.    Ambrose calls his text a "love song to democracy."   Since it draws from some 1200 eyewitness testimonials collected in his archive, however, his book might more accurately be thought of as an organization of the chaotic, terrifying, and courageous experiences of the first soldiers to face the Nazi hellfire.   An excellent editor of the raw material, who knows Pointe du Hoc as if he had scaled it himself, Ambrose situates his pungent, laconic, and gruesome quotations at virtually the exact spots where they were uttered, and he is completely unbashful in his patriotic reverence for the sacrifices these men made.   A consuming and highly readable memorial to the day's infantry-unit victors -- one that World War II veterans will demand in strength.   Ambrose's is the leading and required element in the coming wave of commemorative books.  Gilbert Taylor    Copyright© 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved

John Keegan's innovative approach to the invasion of Normandy correctly observes that the invasion, while colossal, was merely the beginning of a series of furious battles in northern France, and Keegan accordingly tackles not only the actions of June 6, 1944, but the subsequent Normandy campaigns by five Allied nations and their German opponents.   Focusing on specific actions, such as the U.S. 101st Airborne night drop into France and the British infantry battles surrounding the city of Caen, he provides an exciting chronological account of the action in Normandy with considerable depth about tactical decisions.  Keegan is a skilled writer and his battle accounts are stirring.   But beyond the vivid battle stories, this is also a book that will engage intellectually those who study battles and tactics, as well as the diplomatic activity that was necessary for the Allied victory in the Second World War's European theater of operations. --Robert McNamara

A true classic of World War II history, The Longest Day tells the story of the massive Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.    Journalist Cornelius Ryan began working on the book in the mid-1950s, while the memories of the D-day participants were still fresh, and he spent three years interviewing D-day survivors in the United States and Europe.   When his book was first published in 1959, it was tremendously successful, establishing many of the legends of D-day that endure in the public's mind.   Ryan was enormously skillful at weaving small personal stories into the overall narrative, and he would later use the same technique to depict the airborne invasion of Holland in A Bridge Too Far.    Not only is The Longest Day a pleasure to read, but subsequent historians, dutifully noting its accuracy, have relied heavily on Ryan's research for their own accounts.   In short, the book is a "must read" for anyone interested in the
D-day invasion. --Robert McNamara

U. S Marines N.C.O SwordU. S Marines N.C.O Sword

An account of a significant World War II battle discusses the airborne struggles at Arnhem and documents the related human issues with the words of Dutch civilians, British and American strategists, common soldiers, and commanders.   The dramatic final volume in Ryan's superb World War II trilogy focuses on the battle for Arnhem.   Ryan draws from a vast cast of characters -- from Dutch civilians to British and American strategists to common soldiers and commanders -- to bring to life this daring military operation.

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