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Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944 [Kindle Edition]

Joseph Balkoski
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Balkoski's depiction of 'Bloody Omaha' is the literary accompaniment to the white-knuckle Omaha Beach scene that opens Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan." -- John Hillen, New York Post

is sometimes referred to as the finest living D-Day historian. For my
money, the title fits. Anyone who wants to know anything about Omaha
Beach, where the fighting was heaviest and bloodiest, must begin with
this foundational book by a true maestro of original history. The
research is unparalleled and comprehensive enough to satisfy even the
most skeptical scholar, yet the story is absorbing. The carnage of Omaha
Beach comes to life with vivid contemporary descriptions from
participants and witnesses, while the whole tale is deftly steered along
by Balkoski's steady narration and his sense of the battle's larger
significance. 'History can provide at least a little solace that there
was some meaning to it all,' he writes movingly. 'D-Day was the decisive
chapter of a twentieth century Iliad.' Indeed it was--and Balkoski is
its Homer." -- John McManus, Wall Street Journal

In this unforgettable narrative of D-Day, Joseph Balkoski describes the minute-by-minute combat as it unfolded on Omaha Beach, allowing soldiers to speak for themselves as they recall their attempts to maneuver bombers through heavy cloud cover, the claustrophobic terror aboard transports, and the relentless fire that greeted them on the beach. Equal parts oral history and meticulous reconstruction, Omaha Beach is the closest the modern reader can get to experiencing the Normandy landings firsthand."

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Balkoski (Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Division in Normandy) makes officer and enlisted-men's first-person testimony the center of this account, with light contextualization in between, along with 34 b&w photos and 27 maps.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Balkoski is in top form in this groundbreaking analysis of the other half of America’s D-Day." -- Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel

"Even the most seasoned historian will find something new in these pages." -- Kevin Hymel, Army magazine

Utah Beach is first-class history, impeccably researched and skillfully written by an author who rightfully has become the foremost historian of the American D-Day experience. -- Carlo D’Este, Naval History

Product Details

  • File Size: 8914 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; Reprint edition (May 18, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,606 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
I haven't read every single book on D-Day and Omaha Beach so I suppose calling this one THE ONE is a bit of an overextension, but I feel comfortable doing it and here's why. Joseph Balkoski has got to be the single best historian on D-Day alive today. His research is absolutely amazing. He has found after-action reports that no other historian has used, some of these reports taken just days after the invasion. He's walked the beach, lived in Normandy and focuses almost exclusively on original, primary sources as close to the action as possible. Now that is research.
First, the maps. I don't know how many times I have read a book and tried to piece together where and what was happening. I think there are 30 crystal clear maps in this book spread out where they are needed providing an almost minute by minute account of the action. They really helped me visualize what was going on.
Second, the research. For the first time I finally understand what happened with the DD Tanks, why some were launched far out from the beaches while others virtually rolled off the LCTs and right onto the beach. And guess what, it wasn't the Navy's fault. Add to that the first real look at the role played by the Royal Navy at Omaha Beach and the incredible detail Balkoski provides of the assault teams as they clawed their forward and that is just a slice of his mastery of this subject. (And his piece at the end about the differences in medals awarded to the 1st division and 29th is almost worth a book in itself.)
Third, his writing style. Actually, part of his style is to let the soldiers speak for themselves by quoting the after-action reports and mixing them in with the text. I've seen this done before, but never this well or with this much detail.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Joseph Balkoski's book on Omaha Beach may not be able to lay claim to quite the same literary grace of Cornelius Ryan's classic "The Longest Day" nor perhaps even Stephen Ambrose's later book on D-Day, but it does provide a sharper focus than either of those books on what was probably the most crucial one-day battle in the European theater that the US engaged in World War Two. Balkoski's preference is for primary sources as nearly contemporaneous with the events themselves, using later veterans' reminiscences only when corroborated by other evidence. He has constructed a narrative that is broken at regular intervals for excerpts, sometimes quite lengthy, sometimes not, from primary sources. Although this does not make for the smoothest narrative style, it does allow the men who were there speak for themselves. Almost of these accounts are from Americans -- it was, after all, American ground forces who landed on Omaha Beach -- but are supplemented by some from Royal Navy personnel who operated some of the landing craft used to ferry the Americans ashore. Balkoski explains, however, that very few German accounts are available because, first, relatively few Germans fought there and survived and, second, those who did survive had little reason to recount their experiences in later years.

I do not believe that there is a clearer, more detailed study of the Omaha Beach events available anywhere. Balkoski's text is supplemented by numerous maps, albeit maps somewhat sterile in style.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! March 20, 2004
By Tyler
I'm a music major but have always loved history and read it for pleasure. Both my grandfathers served in WWII, one was wounded, the other killed. As a result I am keenly interested in D-Day and Omaha Beach in particular as both grandfathers served in the European Theater. I saw this book in my Barnes and Noble and started reading it there. I couldn't put it down! I think my favorite part are all the interviews spaced throughout the book. It really brings it home listening to the soldiers talk about what it was like in their very own words. The author, Jospeh Balkoski, ties it altogether nicely so that everything flows and you keep getting pulled deeper and deeper into the terror and exhiliration of going ashore that morning.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly and engaging story of the US Army at its best September 29, 2004
Joseph Balkoski has crafted an amazing piece of literary history with "Omaha Beach". "Omaha Beach" delivers on two major counts: First, this is one of the only books to tackle in such a scholarly fashion the critical events of June 6, 1944 that took place on that surprisingly well defended strip of Norman coast. Second, Balkoski does his scholarly work with literary flair oft missing in such serious works. This book is plain fun to read. Balkoski doesn't write like C. Ryan, J. Toland, or S. Ambrose, but his writes in a readable style that quickly endears him to the reader. I found his use of replicated first-hand accounts (after action reports, personal letters, and diary entries) - and to a lesser extent, second-hand after-action Army Historical Division interviews - to supplement his own story-telling quite effective. It is clear upon reading this book that Balkoski has put his heart and soul into this work, and has done so not with speculation, but by sifting through literally thousands of pieces official historical documents and personal recollections of survivors who were there.

If the aforementioned properties of "Omaha Beach" were not enough, Balkoski's book is also steeped with amazingly detailed and useful maps of action - these have been generated from the research undertaken and present the reader with a very nice picture of where units were over the 24 hour period that was the 6th of June. I found these maps (there are 27 in total) indispensible! The Appendices of the book are also to be cherished by the reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous book on a decisive day and episode in military history,...
Joe Balkoski is one of the most powerful modern historians of the US Army and its achievements in World War II, and he has focused his lens tightly on the men who stormed Omaha... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Kiwiwriter
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent guide to the buildup and deployment with al the ...
an excellent guide to the buildup and deployment with al the unexpected turns and trials of the troops that landed on this beach head
Published 12 days ago by Steve K. Bonaparte
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good Book.
Published 29 days ago by Ray Biano
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read
An interesting story with lots of actual accounts of the soldiers at Omaha. I never realized how dramatic it was. A good read.
Published 1 month ago by Retief
5.0 out of 5 stars Best account of Omaha out there
Best and most complete tactical account of Omaha beach on June 6 that I have encountered. Balkoski mixes official and eye-witness accounts to great effect, presenting the story in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Matthew Baumgartner
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic historical account of our military men's sacrifices.
This is an account that was written in a documentary style which some would find rather dry, but I did not want to put this down. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent insight into what our service people and some British and Canadian personnel went through on that eventful day.
Published 2 months ago by Ronald R. Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars I like how the book has presented the stratagies that the ...
I like how the book has presented the stratagies that the generals and other persons who planned this invasion should have happened. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bruce H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Omaha Beach
Good History Book
Published 2 months ago by Rod Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars We must never forget or neglect to pass on our knowledge of the great...
Excellent book! The amount of detail was awsome and much appreciated. I had not realized how much went wrong on that day and have a much deeper respect and heart wrenching... Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. Touchette
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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.


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