D-Day, June 6, 1944
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
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 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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