Saturday, May 14, 2011

D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Anthony Beevor

Synopsis: The Normandy Landings that took place on D-Day involved by far the largest invasion fleet ever known. The scale of the undertaking was simply awesome. What followed them was some of the most cunning and ferocious fighting of the war, at times as savage as anything seen on the Eastern Front. As casualties mounted, so too did the tensions between the principal commanders on both sides. Meanwhile, French civilians caught in the middle of these battlefields or under Allied bombing endured terrible suffering. Even the joys of Liberation had their darker side. The war in northern France marked not just a generation but the whole of the post-war world, profoundly influencing relations between America and Europe. Making use of overlooked and new material from over thirty archives in half a dozen countries, "D-Day" is the most vivid and well-researched account yet of the battle of Normandy. As with Stalingrad and Berlin, Antony Beevor's gripping narrative conveys the true experience of war.

First line: Southwick House is a large Regency building with a stucco facade and a colonnaded front.

My thoughts: D-Day has received the Prix Henry Malherbe in France and the Duke of Westminster Medal from the Royal United Services Institute. I am not much of a reader of war history and have not read any other books on this subject so I know next to nothing about D-Day. Which isn't something I am proud of. One thing that was driven home was the horror of war. The huge death tolls in the bloody battles including the loss of an unimaginable number of French civilians is inconceivable. This book was not just dry facts, there were many quotes from journals, diaries, scripts of meetings etc. incorporated into this retelling of this important event. The author tells, in detail, what happened from several perspectives, from the thinking of the leaders down to the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians. It was enlightening to hear of the many attempts on Hitler's life and of the feelings of some of the German regular army types compared to Hitler's SS. D-Day: the Battle for Normandy followed the fight from the June 6th landings throught the battles centered around Caen and through the hedgerows of Normandy and on to the liberation of Paris.

I listened to this book. What was good was that the narrator was wonderful. What wasn't so good: I didn't have access to the maps, pictures, illustrations and glossary.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about this time in history.

Rating: A

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