33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark D-Day Tale
On the sixth day of the sixth month of 1944, elements of six Allied infantry divisions and three airborne divisions began the assault on Hitler's Fortress Europe. Within 24 hours, despite horrible losses at some points, the first wave of invaders breached the German line and a huge Allied host began pouring ashore.
Peter G. Tsouras, tweaking history's reality by...
Published on July 12, 2003 by Alex Diaz-Granados
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but ultimately flawed
This is a good, generally well-written 'alternate history' study, but it is not a classic in my view.
Tsouras' aim is to show how the Germans could have 'won' at D-Day. To do this he has to re-arrange things. Some of those rearrangements do seem possible -- but in one crucial area - his scenario demands a considerable suspension of belief. And this is NOT what is called...
Published on February 9, 2004 by Tim62
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark D-Day Tale,
This review is from: Disaster At D-Day (Greenhill Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)On the sixth day of the sixth month of 1944, elements of six Allied infantry divisions and three airborne divisions began the assault on Hitler's Fortress Europe. Within 24 hours, despite horrible losses at some points, the first wave of invaders breached the German line and a huge Allied host began pouring ashore.
Peter G. Tsouras, tweaking history's reality by presenting a plausible chain of alternate events, paints a chilling picture of a German victory over the invading Allies. In Tsouras' fictional history, German armored units destroy the Omaha Beach landings, Hitler and his generals react much faster than they actually did, and nothing the Allies attempt to do in order to save Operation Overlord works.
Tsouras uses the techniques of a traditional historian. His prose is straightforward and never veers into novelistic style, even though this is, indeed, a novel by any other name. The use of maps, photographs and footnotes gives the book the feel of a "real" history book.
The only complaint I have is the choice of typeface....it's too small and makes the text a bit hard to read. Otherwise, it is a great book for history buffs and fans of the "what-if" genre.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disaster At D-Day: Fake History Sounds Real,
This review is from: Disaster At D-Day (Greenhill Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)Alternate history novels are becoming increasing popular. Harry Turtledove sees to that. But almost as quickly is the category of non-fiction alternate history. In this latter 'history' the author takes a real life event and makes it come out different from the original. He makes no attempt to novelize it; thus, he does not have to worry about the proper use of typical writer's tools such as character development, symbolism, dialogue, and style. What this author must do is to write expository prose, clearly showing the relation of original cause to changed event. In DISASTER AT D-DAY, Peter Tsouras posits a German victory at Normandy in June of 1944. Tsouras notes that only a few changes would have been needed to insure an Allied debacle. In real life, Hitler refused to commit his reserve tank corps to back up his western wall on the beaches of Normandy. Had he done so, the Allies' advance could well have slowed. The problem with books of this type is that only the most determined of readers who have accumulated a vast reservoir of military history would have the fortitude to plow through a series of unconnected dots on a swirling map of war. I am a big fan of war in general and alternate war in particular, but even I had trouble keeping straight a constantly changing series of men, divisions, battles, and minor victories and defeats. The very nature of this genre precludes an author from connecting too many dots. The staying power of this book was the immensity of the background, but after having read it, I found that all I could take away from it was the realization that we came THISCLOSE to losing the big one.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but ultimately flawed,
This review is from: Disaster At D-Day (Greenhill Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)This is a good, generally well-written 'alternate history' study, but it is not a classic in my view.
Tsouras' aim is to show how the Germans could have 'won' at D-Day. To do this he has to re-arrange things. Some of those rearrangements do seem possible -- but in one crucial area - his scenario demands a considerable suspension of belief. And this is NOT what is called for in a true 'alternate' history as opposed to a fictional treatment.
To start with Tsouras gives the Germans slightly better luck in their initial disposition of forces, he allows certain units to be in position, certain commanders to be with their troops as opposed to being absent either on home leave or attending a war-game inland.
This is all fine. As the Allies land he allows the Germans to counter-attack much more quickly than they did. This has a significant impact on the Allies, it's interesting because it could have happened, had not the defence been ham-strung as it was in reality by Hitler's orders over when to deploy his panzer divisions.
However, to win the campaign, as opposed to just the landings themselves, the Allies or the Germans had to beat the other in the battle of the build-up. The winner would be the side which could amass the most troops, tanks, ammunition and supplies, to allow them to overwhelm the other.
In reality of course, the Germans did not believe that the Normandy landings were the main landings, and they kept back key divisions defending the Pas de Calais until it was too late.
Tsouras allows the Germans to realise much more quickly than they historically did, that the Normandy landings were 'it'. He doesn't truly address the issues raised here. The reasons the Germans were slow off the mark were two-fold:
Yet for the Germans' intelligence to be better, they would have had to have a much better intelligence network in the UK, and they would have had to be able to take many more aerial photos of the south coast of England -- and this would have meant the Luftwaffe would have had to have been much stronger than it historically was in 1944 -- this 'better' intelligence is a re-adjustment that does not easily work.
But allowing for all this, the book's weakest point is in its treatment of air power. Even had the Germans immediately realised that the Normandy landings were 'it', and had Hitler ordered every unit in France to Normandy to contain and destroy the Allied build-up -- it is very hard to see how this could have happened given the Allies overwhelming aerial superiority over France in 1944-45.
In the build-up to the campaign, Allied bmobers destroyed hundred of key bridges, rail junctions, marshalling yards, track, signals complexes. A series of tactical bombing that was supplemented by the French Resistance, which in 1944 had a significant impact on the ability of the Germans to move troops and tanks. Had the Germans shown signs of moving in the way Tsouras has them in his book, the Allies would have reacted by heavily attacking units on the move. Historically this is what they did. Many German units only reached the front after a severe mauling and with numerous significant delays.
We are left with 'absent' Allied air forces -- which is rather far-fetched.
Saying all this, the book is a good read, if only to show how unlikely it was the Germans could have 'won' at D-Day. However, what Tsouras does very well show, is that it could have well have been far more bloody than it actually was, and that the Germans could well have thrown back the Allies into the sea on at least one of the beaches.
He also shows that in the first few days at least, the German might well have been able to give the British and Americans such a beating that they could have created a stalemate.
However while Tsouras' book has -- for Germany - a reasonably benign outcome, in reality, any disaster at D-Day would have ultimately see the USAAF dropping its first atomic bombs not on Japan -- but on Germany:
Any Disaster at D-Day for the Allies in 1944, would have led to Atomic Devastation for the Third Reich in 1945.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A totally convincing enjoyable military history.,
By A Customer
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars German victory in Normandy,
By A Customer
This review is from: Disaster At D-Day (Greenhill Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)For me, a keen student of military history since childhood, nothing is more fascinating than alternate history. What could have happened and what nearly happened. This book was a sensation for me and taught me to look differently at history. One can argue that the author gives the Germans too much good fortune, but on the other hand one must admit that the changes made towards reality are surprisingly small. Especially the early fall of Caen into Allied hands, which turns out to be the beginning of the end for the British forces is brilliant. Yes, one can find weak points in this book, but all in all it is one of the best alternate books I've ever read. I bought two copies and I can honestly say that I regret that Mr. Tsouras wrote only one chapter about the period following the German victory in Normandy in his book 'Third Reich Victorious' about how the Germans managed to stop the Soviets by throwing all their forces to the east and Rommel managed to turn the tide at the eastern front as well. It would have deserved another great book. Buy it! It will give you a better understanding of the Normandy campaign and a fresh look at history.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Rommel had had his way...,
The book is broken up into chapters that correspond to each of the major offensives & counter-offensives, as the Allies and Germans slog it out in the hedgerows. Lots of details, as this and that regiment drive forward, then meet heavy artillery fire or what-have-you. And you'll see how the Allies react as their grand strategy takes some big hits, and what Rommel might have done had he been dealt a better hand.
My only gripe about this book is that it could use a few more maps. One of the chapters (Operation Spanner) has no accompanying map, so I found myself frequently flipping back a chapter or two to figure out where exactly the events described were taking place. In other cases, e.g. Operation Rossbach, it would have been helpful to provide not only an overview of the whole offensive (as the book does), but then zoom in on each zone of the front to provide more detail.
Otherwise, it's a great read, and, for my money, not too far out there.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What might have been,
This review is from: Disaster At D-Day (Greenhill Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)Disaster at D-Day presents a realistic and quite believable what could have happened during the invasion of Normandy in WW2. The book shows how little things if they had gone the other way could have changed the outcome of the battle and possibly the war.
The Western Allies had bet almost everything on the success of the Cross Channel invasion and if it had not succeded it would have been monthes before they would have been able to try again if that would have been possible at all.
A very good alternate history read that was a very real possibility.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very believable what if...,
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This review is from: Disaster at D-Day: The Germans Defeat the Allies, June 1944 (Kindle Edition)'Disaster at D-day' is a very compelling 'what if' book, which illustrate the idea of what small changes can make to a major story. The book may read very clinically unless you are into hardcore history / military history, however since I am into that type of stories and enjoy history in general I found the book very well put together, and answered the questions of 'what if' very well.
It most likely is a best case scenario for Germany, it may not really be all that believable for many. However having read 'Rise and fall of the 3rd Reich' I know that active opposition did exist in Germany and within the armed forces.
The notes added to each major chapter makes the book read even better, as one sit with feeling of actually reading 'real' history, and the author manage not to take sides or make one side better or more human than the other.
If a 'what if' type of story is your thing, then 'Disaster at D-day' is a great read and highly recommended.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Makes You Believe This Actually Happened",
What made this come alive for me is Tsouras' use of personal accounts and showing major battles through the eyes of a few soldiers. You can actually feel the desperation of both sides as men, equipment and supplies run low.
I would have liked to have seen more made of the personalities of the leaders in this battle. Tsouras did an OK job showing off Montgomery. The one man he truly captured was Rommel.
This is a must for anyone with an interest in World War II.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Alternate/Counter-factual Historical Fiction!,
Our reality, by its nature and definition, is the result of a sequence of events brought about by actions which are often more interrelated than we realize or can foresee. Sometimes, a slight change in a pattern of activity - even a seemingly insignificant incident - can affect a change in a series of subsequent actions that alter the entire course of events, making the difference between what is and what might have been the present and future. Many large and conspicuous actions will often bring about an intended - and sometimes rather UNintended - outcomes. But occasionally, even relatively minor and seemingly obscure actions or incidents which might initially be considered as insignificant can have a cascading effect on a chain of events - not merely the absence or addition of one element, but a "domino effect" of causalities & outcomes. Another apt metaphor is the rippling pond effect - i.e. a drop or pebble impacts the surface of a pond, and the subsequent ripples continue to extend outwards indefinitely in all directions.
Nowhere is this better evident than in the course of human civilization, where significant moments in history have been affected by not only great and conspicuous actions, but also what might have even seemed like more relatively innocuous events at the time. Among the factors that have most affected the course of human history, few (if any) can dispute that wars have had considerable and significant influence. And when it comes to the defining battles that had the most influential effect in shaping history, it is exceedingly difficult and possibly even futile to try to unanimously select the single most important battle in history. However, it is difficult to imagine an argument that could refute the fact that World War 2 has had an immense effect on shaping the modern world. Of the numerous historically significant battles of this massive (history's largest) conflict, it would be generally - if not universally - accepted that the D-Day Invasion (Operation Overlord) would have to be listed among the most important. The success of this crucial operation - the largest planned military invasion in all of history - was a critical first step for the Allies in their goal of retaking the continent of (western) Europe and ushering the necessary series of campaign actions leading to the eventual defeat of the Third Reich.
But what if this grand strategy and bold gamble had not succeeded as hoped - either as only a partial success (and therefore a costly and inconclusive venture) - or if it had even resulted in a decisive failure and defeat for the Allies? Though the Allied forces had the advantage in strength of numbers and equipment and logistics, this was far from a guarantee of victory or success.
The Germans had the (limited) benefit of an inherent advantage generally conferred to forces defending a fortified position.
The calculus of tactical combat typically states that an attacking force must achieve a numerical ratio of several times that of the defending force - and this is barring additional factors (such as weather, artillery support, air support, supplies & logistics, etc.). What weighed even more in the German's favor was the strength and magnitude of their heavily and expertly fortified coastal defenses, as well as the leadership of arguably their most famous military commander: Field Marshall Irwin Rommel.
For the Allies to prevail in this operation, they would need more than just impeccable planning and training. They would need more than the utmost skill and bravery of their soldiers. They would need more than the brilliant and bold leadership of their commanders. They would need more than just a massive - even superior - array of forces. They would also need all the luck they could get. In an endeavor so inherently chaotic as war, ultimately nobody - even the most disciplined and determined combatants - is beyond the realm and influence of fortunes good or ill. Particularly with regards to the D-Day landings - if the weather had not been favorable on the invasion date, if the Germans had correctly guessed the actual invasion landing sites and not been fooled by the brilliant and elaborate Allied ruse of convincing them that the invasion would be at Pais-De-Calais, if Hitler had ordered his large reserve of Panzer divisions to counterattack the landing forces, or if any number of incidental mishaps or shortfalls of luck had occurred - history and our present world as we know it would probably have a dramatically different make-up.
In the exceptional book DISASTER AT D-DAY, Peter Tsouras examines in remarkable and impressive detail the hypothetical (and thankfully fictitious) alternate reality of what could have happened if a few crucial factors had turned out differently, and if the outcome had hinged on them. A brilliant historian and gifted writer, Tsouras combines these skills to create a thoroughly engaging book which is impressive both in the excellent quality of its realistic fiction but also in its remarkably and vividly detailed historical context. Unlike many novels of alternate history, Tsouras does not yield to excess literary gimmick devices nor try to use the historical event merely as a backdrop for what is in essence just a fictional novel. Instead, he prefers to use the fictional aspects as integral and effective elements to solidly support the hypothetical premise, which serves as the core of the story.
Whether you are a history buff, an aficionado of military novels, or an enthusiast of alternate/counterfactual history, this is a rather well-written and engaging book that you will most likely find worth your time.
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Disaster At D-Day (Greenhill Military Paperbacks) by Peter G. Tsouras (Paperback - September 4, 2000)
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