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The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Invasion Hardcover – May 15, 2014
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From the Publisher
'THE PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD is priceless. As the Normandy invasion grows more distant in the mirror of history, the pictures remain with us, almost an uncompromising keepsake to that extraordinary, remarkable event. The pictures illustrate what we read in the original documents or the veterans’ memoirs, or the words we hear as we listen to their personal stories. The photos provide us with definition and context. They humanize what is now a legendary event. Each photograph conveys only a single moment in time, a second of experience, a glimpse into the reality of that instant. They cannot and do not tell us all, but they do tell us something honest. The photographs show us the uniforms, the weapons, the equipment, the hairstyles, the food, the setting, even the time of day on that momentous June 6, 1944. More interesting, the best of them convey the mood and the emotions of the participants. They show the fear, the anticipation, the confusion, and, in some instances, the camaraderie of a particular moment. ' -John C. McManus (St. Louis, MO), Author of The Americans at D-Day, The Dead and Those about to Die: D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Big Red One at Omaha Beach
THE D-DAY INVASION OF NORMANDY in 1944 remains one of the most famous combat operations of World War II. In seven decades, countless histories have examined various aspects of this pivotal battle, from broad focus to close detail. While the sheer number of titles available seems to suggest that everything the world needs to know about D-Day has already been written, the reality is quite the opposite. Mythology and hyperbole swirl around the subject, producing historical distortions that continue to interfere with a balanced and nuanced understanding of June 6. For example, despite what countless bad television programs will tell you, D-Day was not the largest invasion in history. For that matter, it was not even the largest amphibious landing operation of World War II. That record belongs to the Operation Iceberg landings on Okinawa in 1945. Although not the biggest, the airborne component of June 6, 1944, definitely made it the most complicated invasion of World War II. But in a modern cultural environment where every subject seems to have a hyperbolized narrative, the Normandy invasion is no exception.
"Martin K. A. Morgan is an expert on the America armed forces on D-Day. His detailed knowledge provides both professional and casual readers a deeper understanding of the battle for Normandy. Mr. Morgan's research took him from the National Archives research rooms to across ‘the pond,' where he found unseen and extant photographs from the Imperial War Museum and other European facilities. As a historian and tour guide, he has visited almost every square foot of ground fought over by American ground and airborne soldiers. His intimate understanding of the battlefields, bunkers, and farmhouses that saw some of the most intense fighting uniquely qualifies him to explain these photographs and their significance to history like no other. This book is simply another great achievement in Mr. Morgan's distinguished career." -Kevin M. Hymel, Author of Patton's Photographs: War as He Saw It (2006)
"What really makes The Americans on D-Day stand out amidst other comparative D-Day histories is the captioning. The level of detail in every caption is unsurpassed. Even the most knowledgeable reader of The Americans on D-Day would be hard-pressed to walk away from the book without gleaning something new from its pages. As the 70th anniversary comes and goes, prompting new scholarship on D-Day, The Americans on D-Day is a worthy investment." - DefenseMediaNetwork.com
"Morgan offers a comprehensive photographic history of the American experience before, during, and after the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. He blends personal narrative, small-unit combat, and the massive effort of storming the beaches into a cohesive whole that stands as a story unto itself, or a jumping-on point for those looking to learn more about the Americans on D-Day. It's one thing for a historian or reader interested in history to sit down with a book and pore through the text, and it's quite another to sit down and see the faces of the men who fought to break Hitler's hold on Europe. The Americans on D-Day is a great addition to the historical record, and one that everyone should read at least once." - ArmchairGeneral.com
"This is a new 70th anniversary commemorative photographic history of the June 6th, 1944 D-Day landing in Normandy, France. This is a large, coffee table book that contains over 450 images taken by Army, Navy and Coast Guard photographers as well as some personal photos. Several of these photos are familiar and have been seen before but many of these images have not been published. The American effort was an ‘epic' undertaking by air, sea and land from the UTAH to OMAHA beaches, Sainte-Mere-Eglise to Pointe Du Hoc through the break out at Saint-Lo. The detail and descriptions of locations, vehicles, equipment, weapons and uniforms are uniquely informative and interesting. Many location photos have been updated with current views for comparison purposes. This is a great resource for anyone who would like a more intimate and revealing study of D-Day 1944." - National 4th Infantry (IVY) Division Association Newsletter The Ivy Leaves
"...a stunning tour de force of photos documenting the American invasion of Normandy." - John Gresham, Military Monday Radio
"Marty Morgan has become perhaps his generation's leading scholar of the Normandy campaign. His unique compilation of photos from the low-tide mark inland to the hedgerows is a rare contribution to our understanding of that historic event." -Barrett Tillman, Author of Brassey's D-Day Encyclopedia (2005)
"Martin Morgan has spent years gathering and studying these images. He has walked the hallowed invasion beaches countless times. He has dug deeply into archives in multiple countries, poring over image after image. Over the years, he has befriended large numbers of veterans, many of whom have been kind enough to trust him with their own pictures. Sit back and enjoy a fresh look at one of history's most significant events, as seen through the keen eyes of the talented photographers of yesteryear and a fine historian of our own time." -From the introduction by John C. McManus
About the Author
Martin K.A. Morgan is an author and historian who studies and is an expert on the American experience in World War II. He is the author of Down to Earth (Schiffer, 2004) and The Americans on D-Day (Zenith Press, 2014). Morgan is also a frequent contributor to World War II Quarterly, The American Rifleman, Aviation History, World War II, World War II History, Armchair General, The Garand Collector's Association Journal (France), and After the Battle (England). In addition to publishing, for the past ten years Martin has been a regular talking head on TV on programs such as Discovery, National Geographic, History, H2, The Weather Channel, Syfy, The Outdoor Channel, and The Military Channel. He has worked as a park ranger and museum professional, worked for the Alabama Historical Commission at Fort Morgan Historic Site, and served as historian-in-residence at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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`D-Day', the 6 June 1944 invasion and battle for Normandy, possesses a rich historiography. This compilation of history includes well-researched literature written by authorities on the subject such as Stephen Ambrose, Rick Atkinson, Antony Beevor, Max Hastings, and Cornelius Ryan. While these prominent historians have contributed unparalleled research re-counted to readers via exquisite narrative, the literature has lacked a definitive photographic history on the subject. To this list of renowned historians we now might add the name Martin K.A. Morgan, author of The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Invasion.
Morgan has accomplished an extraordinary task by providing D-Day bibliophiles clear, vibrant images to relate with their studied narrative of the subject. Narrative that had previously left the reader to his or her own imagination of places such as Graignes, France; Montebourg, France; Portland and Weymouth Harbors in Dorset, England; or Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France. When we think of D-Day, we picture U.S. Army soldiers fighting and dying on Omaha and Utah Beaches. In his new book, Morgan has not omitted the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard or Army Air Force. He includes photographs which bring to light their involvement and heroic efforts.
Morgan's eight chapters that make up The Americans on D-Day are: "The Buildup," "From the Air," "From the Sea," "On the Beaches," "Pointe du Hoc," "La Fiere," "Graignes" and "Aftermath." Each chapter offers a breadth of incredible photography specific to the air, sea, and land events as they unfolded and their aftermath.
Chapter 4, "On the Beaches," gives the reader a true feel for what Cornelius Ryan described in The Longest Day: "These obstacles--jagged triangles of steel, saw-toothed gatelike structures of iron, metal-tipped wooden stakes and concrete ones ..." Relating The Americans on D-Day to Ryan's work, the reader now has an accurate impression for the effort behind Hitler's `Atlantic Wall'. In D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose, the eminent historian writes: "By early afternoon a majority of the German pillboxes on the beach and bluff had been put out of action by destroyers, tanks, and infantry ..." In The Americans on D-Day, Morgan now gives the reader powerful photographs of this post-landing destruction on Omaha and Utah Beaches.
Morgan's The Americans on D-Day fills a long-ignored gap in the photographic history of D-Day. His contribution makes an exceptional companion-book to existing literature by giving the reader an array of photographic reference. But make no mistake, Morgan has written invaluable narrative as he guides the reader from the massive build-up in England, armada crossing the English Channel, the struggle on the beaches, and finally inland in the days following 6 June.
Anyone with any interest in the Normandy landings has seen some of these pictures before. Marty's genius was to go back to the original negatives in many cases, blow them up bigger, and think about them. Let me explain a perfect example of this. There's a pic of 2nd Division men marching in from Omaha after the landings. It's a known pic. It was the cover of a 1990s paperback edition of Keegan's "The Second World War" that I have had since college. But looking more closely at it, why are a battalion's worth of frontline infantrymen in a M1 Garand-equipped army all carrying M1903 Springfields instead? Marty has found the answer and it is in the book. Repeat that dedication to lost details hundreds of times over, and you have the effort that it took for Marty to assemble "The Americans At D-Day".
I don't know if this book could have been done twenty years ago. The book is a large enough format to display the photos well, and modern digital printing brings out the detail. The devil really was in the details this time around, and the details are what makes this book worth every cent.
Marty, I'll see you in Nashville in '15 and you're signing this one for me.