- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Stackpole Books; Reprint edition (May 18, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811733769
- ISBN-13: 978-0811733762
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944 Paperback – May 18, 2006
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Balkoski 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. "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
"This is probably the best book ever written about Omaha Beach." (Bill Stone Stone & Stone Second World War Books 2004-03-21)
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Top Customer Reviews
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. Honestly, this book is like reading the first 20 minutes of Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. The first few chapters are just a tad slow as he explains the whole overview, but after that it starts to fly as fast as the action in Private Ryan.
Other than his previous book, Beyond the Beachhead, I don't really know if he has published anything else, but I hope he does more. This is military history at its finest, better than Ambrose, D'este or even Keegan (who I think is actually past his prime, but Face of Battle is an all time favorite of mine.) I can't recommend this book enough, but I'll try. Read it, check it out at your library or grab a coffee at B&N and relax with it, you'll see what I mean.
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. I regretted the lack of a handy key relating the maps of quite small actions to the larger geography of Omaha Beach, and I found it useful to turn to another source (Steven Zaloga's Osprey book on Omaha Beach) for maps that helped place the small events in a larger context, but that is only a small quibble.
There were many heroes on Omaha Beach that day, but it is clear that Balkoski particularly admires Brigadier General Norman D. Cota, assistant commander of the 29th Division, whose actions under fire were an important factor in moving the invasion force off the beach and across the bluffs into the interior. In an appendix, Balkoski advocates a reconsideration of the Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Cota and upgrading it to a Medal of Honor in recognition of Cota's conduct on Omaha Beach (he also suggests the same for Colonel George Taylor, commanding officer of the 16th Infantry Regiment, whose actions paralled those of Cota).
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.