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Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy Paperback – January 26, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Magnificent.' - Stephen Ambrose 'If you want to know what it was like, from Private to General, from rifle to tank, from beginning to end, this is the book for you.' - Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Joseph Balkoski is Command Historian of the Maryland National Guard and author of Omaha Beach (978-0-8117-3376-2), Utah Beach (978-0-8117-3377-9), and the classic Beyond the Beachhead (978-0-8117-3237-6). He has appeared as a D-Day expert on MSNBC, and his work has been praised by Joe Scarborough, the New York Post, the Washington Times, World War II magazine, and others. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 2 Sub edition (January 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811726827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811726825
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,608,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in NYC and graduated from Vassar College in 1975. I also gained an M.A. in history at New York University. I moved to Baltimore in 1981 and have been here ever since. As soon as I moved here I became fascinated with the US Army's 29th Infantry Division because so many of my neighbors served in it. I have been very honored not only to know past members of the division well, but also its current members, since I serve as Historian for the Maryland National Guard. Both the old and young soldiers are fabulous people and always keep my life interesting. In my spare time, I play the piano and participate in various sports activities as much as I can.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Sci-fi and history reader on January 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
A well researched book that flows extremely well. The author describes the division's formation, training, and preparations for the invasion of Normandy. The author also describes the German 352nd Infantry Division (primary opponent of the 29th Infantry Division in Normandy) it's background and formation. The author then compares the commanders, each nation's tactics, and overall battle strategy for the Normandy invasion.

The description of the initial assaults into Omaha landing zone is sobering, whole companies annihilated. As the author describes the follow-on landings and the eventual US breakthrough, the author goes into a "what if" analysis. What if the German high command and Division commander followed Rommel's strategy to place more troops on the beach zones. What if one extra German infantry battalion or regiment had been defending the landing zones, would the US troops been able to move inland? What if one panzer regiment was in proximity to counterattack the first day?

The author then writes of the deadly fighting in the hedgerows in trying to capture St. Lo. This becomes a very sobering point. The author notes that the 29th Infantry Division spent 8 weeks in Normandy, and took in 15,000 replacements to maintain the fighting strength of the 14,000 soldier Division.

The 82nd Airborne Division (approx. 8500 troops) spent 4 weeks in Normandy and took approx, 45% casualties (according to official records). Quite the comparison in roles and casualties suffered when not being able to pulled from the front line to receive and integrate replacements.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mitch Reed on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I could not put this book down. I can never read enough about the Normandy Invasion. Out of all the titles, I liked this one the best (sorry Mr Ambrose), it tells the story of the "Blue and Gray" division, as well as the bloody assault on Omaha Beach. It breaks down the formation of a US infantry division in great detail. Detail, is also the best word to describe the way Balkoski re creates one of the most heroic days in US Military history. If you have a tatse for Normandy books, read this last, all the rest will not measure up after.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chef Scott VINE VOICE on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At the onset of World War II, men and machines were ill prepared to fight in an overseas campaign against the Axis powers. Yet, the 29th, rose up from a National Guard unit, to a unit representing states all across our great land. Officers were replaced and men were shuffled in and out of duty until the proper man was found for the job.
Men such as General Cota, took it upon themselves to lead charges off the beach and into a hail of bullets. As he leaped and dashed across the road, he yelled for others to follow his example. In doing so his bravery trickled down to the lowest private in line and moved them off the beach! Cota's story and many others truly complete this book.
"Beyond the Beachhead" was hard to put down. In describing the maintaining of spotless jeeps to the specifcs and rigors of training to 20 July 1944, when the 35th Division took over for the 29th for a well deserved eight-day rest; Mr. Balkoski's attention to detail takes you to the point of actually smelling spent powder from the bangalore torpedos as they exploded under the wire.
This book is a must for anyone interested in World War II history, and goes far towards revealing what happened, not only on the beach, but beyond! Thank you Mr. Balkoski for all your time and effort, it's been wonderful reading!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Chad R. Reihm on October 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
Of the scores of WWII histories I have read, this book has got to be in the top 3 (with Burgetts '7 roads' and Macdonalds 'Company Commander'). It traces the history of the 29th Division (including the Stonewallers of Civil War fame) from training, across the bullet infested beaches of Omaha, to the horrors of the Norman Bocage. It gives a day by day account of the drive for St.Lo that shows WWII combat at its worst. For once I have even found a book that has good maps!
But there is much more than combat recorded here. Like 'The Deadly Brotherhood', this book takes time to describe some of the elementary parts of warfare such as equipment comparisons with the Germans, communication techniques, and infantry tactics unique to Normandy. And it describes these in an extremely interesting manner. So interesting that, despite being very busy I finished it in under a week.
Overall, for a great history of the Normandy campaign and a grisly picture of WWII combat, this book can't be beat!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had read many books on D-Day as my hometown of Bedford, VA suffered the most KIA's that day (per capita) of any location in the U.S. A/116th Infantry. I am an Officer in the Maryland National Guard and the 29th and its history are still studied today. This book takes you into the 29th just prior to W.W. II, explains how the national guard officers were replaced with West Pointers, how nearly half the troops were "recycled" and how the remainder was filled from all over the country. It strips the myth of the 29th being a national guard unit per say. It details the years of training prior to the invasion, how the 29th's troops trained like they were already in the fight all the while they were in England. It details the equipment they used such as the M-1 which ultimately proved vastly inferior in fire suppression when faced with similar sized German units with two MG-42's light machine guns. It provides the foot-soldier details that so many books fail to touch upon!
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