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As near as possible to experiencing what it was like to be there... It is almost impossible for a reader not to get caught up in the excitement -- Giles Foden Guardian No writer can surpass Beevor in making sense of a crowded battlefield and in balancing the explanation of tactical manoeuvres with poignant flashes of human detail -- Christopher Silvester Daily Express
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A regular in the 11th Hussars, Antony Beevor served in Germany and England. He has had a number of books published and his book Stalingrad was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson History Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. Among the many prestigious posts he holds, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Some may simply ignore this book, yet another look at the Normandy invasion that has been seemingly done to death. But what makes it good is that it was researched and written by well-known historian Antony Beevor, author of 'Stalingrad.' Beevor does an incredible job of interweaving the stories of soldiers involved in the invasion along with the decisions made at the top. He finds a good deal of fault with his own countrymen, namely General Montgomery, who he finds reacted much too slowly to German counterattacks and even hints that the Brits may have been suffering from a bit of war exhaustion. Like Cornelius Ryans' classic 'The Longest Day,' Beevor explores the actions and reactions of each side, including the Brits, Americans, Germans, and the French. There was something of a controversy when the book was released in Britain after Beevor asserted that the bombing of Caen by the Brits before D-Day was "very close to a war crime." Many felt Beevor made the statement to help sell books. I don't think that was the case because I don't believe Dr. Beevor will have trouble selling this book, nor do I feel this statement is hardly controversial. Many of the bombings during the war could come close to being considered war crimes, especially when civilians were made to suffer, but each side was guilty of this. Also, with hindsight, this is an easy statement to make. The Brits did have a rough time taking Caen after German panzer reinforcements reached the town and held it against Montgomery's forces. I also enjoyed a section where Beevor discussed the highly controversial replacement system of the American army during the war. Many green soldiers were sent to the front lines simply as "bodies" to fill a space left by a dead or wounded GI.Read more ›
There have been many books written about D-Day, starting with Cornelius Ryan's "The Longest Day", and one (this one anyway) wondered whether there would be anything new to say about the momentous events of 6 June 1944. In short, the answer is no. Mr. Beevor relates all the familiar stories of the build-up and the great stories of D-Day - Pegasus Bridge, the Merville Battery, Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach - in relatively abbreviated fashion. The stories are told better elsewhere.
However, what is not told better elsewhere, and what makes this book so different and interesting, is signalled by the subtitle "The Battle for Normandy". Whereas many others stop at the successful establishment of the Normandy beachhead, Mr. Beevor takes us further - much further. He takes us into the hedgerows of Normandy and the bloody and difficult fighting that took place there, to the breakthrough, leading to the great turkey shoot of the Falaise Gap, where the Allied air forces and artillery caused staggering carnage among the Germans trying to escape the closing Allied pincers. The story ends with the liberation of Paris.
Many (myself included) have discounted D-Day and the Western Front as a drop in the bucket, compared to the titanic struggles of the Eastern Front, but Mr. Beevor convincingly shows that the Normandy effort was no mere sideshow. The Allies faced difficult terrain, a determined enemy (including fanatical SS divisions) with often vastly superior equipment (the 88mm gun, the Tiger and Panther tanks and the MG42 light machine gun), and incompetence, one-upmanship and dissension in the Allied upper ranks (the arrogant, difficult, prickly and often downright infuriating Montgomery and the vain, gung-ho, glory-hunting "Blood and Guts" Patton get special attention here).Read more ›
At well over 500 pages, Antony Beevor's newest work is quite a lot to pick up. I'm happy to report that it's much harder to put down.
We are at an important point for historians of the Second World War. The events are two-thirds of a century in the past. But these events are still living memory for thousands of people. The outlines of the Normandy effort have been known and recounted for quite some time. What recent years and recollections have given us is detail. We can now say more about the effectiveness of a particular battle and how it may have had a completely different outcome. We have many more vignettes recounted by soldiers and civilians alike. And we finally come face to face with the enormous price paid by tens of thousands of people who called Normandy their home. The passage of time gives a historian perspective. The passage of too much time leaves a historian with no one to talk to.
While there are brief appearances by major historical figures--Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eisenhower, de Gaulle--Beevor tells this story primarily from a tactical point of view. The book opens with the last details of planning the assault and ends with the liberation of Paris. Most of us think of "D-Day" as the series of beach assaults beginning on June 6. That was only the beginning. There was terrible fighting and loss of life for more than two more months. The account of Omaha beach is unnerving. There is confusion, slaughter and there are atrocities on all sides. This is an effective telling, done with words alone. Those of us who were not there can only wonder what we would have done.
Our view of well-known names is sharpened. We get a better picture of the plodding but strategic Omar Bradley.Read more ›