Almost History: Close Calls, Plan B's, and Twists of Fate in America's Pastby Roger Bruns
Almost History is a collection of speeches, memos, and other archival material that reveals how our government would have handled historic moments that almost - but didn't - come to be: JFK's prepared address justifying his bombing of Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis; Abraham Lincoln's plans for post-Civil War Reconstruction; the authorization for the use of… See more details below
Almost History is a collection of speeches, memos, and other archival material that reveals how our government would have handled historic moments that almost - but didn't - come to be: JFK's prepared address justifying his bombing of Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis; Abraham Lincoln's plans for post-Civil War Reconstruction; the authorization for the use of American nuclear weapons in the Vietnam War; the CIA's memo discussing the use of Americans as guinea pigs in drug tests, the FBI's memo on deporting John Lennon, and much more. Compiled by a Deputy Director of the National Archives, this extraordinary and often provocative material demonstrates, in handwritten notes, telegrams, memos, and photographs, just how close we came to defeat, disaster, and distress - and provides chilling proof that the course of history can change in an instant.
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 ED
- Product dimensions:
- 6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Read an Excerpt
If D-Day Had Stood for Disaster 1944
Personal note of Dwight D. Eisenhower in case of D-Day disaster
Group Capt. James Stagg, chief meteorologist for the Royal Air Force, made what some believe was one of the most important weather predictions in military history: gradual clearing on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France. Against an entrenched German army, mounds of hedgerows and sunken roads, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, had prepared a massive assault, "the opening phase," he said, "of the campaign in Western Europe." An invasion force called Operation Overlord consisting of 4,000 ships, 11,000 planes, and nearly three million soldiers, airmen, and sailors assembled in England for the assault. But everything depended on a break in the bad weather that was plaguing the English Channel, a window of opportunity for the assault to take the Germans by surprise.
General Eisenhower trusted in Captain Stagg's prediction and went forward with the plans. The dismal, rainy days that preceded June 6 which did force Eisenhower and the Allies to delay the landing by one day finally lifted, and more than 150,000 troops stormed the beaches. Their objective: to open a second major European front in the battle against the Germans. Victory was uncertain. The day before the landing, Eisenhower drafted a note in his own hand on a small sheet of paper, a message to be delivered in the event the invasion failed. In the rush of the moment, he wrote July on the bottom, rather than June, and put the note in his wallet.
As the attack began, Allied troops faced not only withering fire on the beaches from artillery and machine guns but a maze of tangled barbed wire and other barriers designed to prevent landing craft from reaching shore. About 4,900 soldiers American, British, and Canadian became casualties that momentous day on beaches called Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, and Sword. But at its end, the Allied troops were firmly ashore and in control of 80 square miles of French coast. The final destruction of Hitler's Third Reich had begun. The value of the message in General Eisenhower's wallet was not in its utility but in its symbolism: the Allies had turned history in their favor.
But what if the break in the rain and fog had not occurred, and the Allies had attempted the invasion in bad weather, thus placing their troops at even greater risk, or instead had delayed the invasion for many days, thus jeopardizing the advantage of surprise that had carefully constructed? The note that Eisenhower carried in his pocket that day was not based on unreasonable fear of failure but on a distinct possibility that Operation Overload could have brought tragic loss
Personal Note of Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 5, 1944
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >