D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, 1944 [The Young Readers Adaptation]

D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, 1944 [The Young Readers Adaptation]

5.0 3
by Rick Atkinson

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Adapted for young readers from the #1 New York Times-bestselling The Guns at Last Light, D-Day captures the events and the spirit of that day--June 6, 1944--the day that led to the liberation of western Europe from Nazi Germany's control. They came by sea and by sky to reclaim freedom from the occupying Germans, turning the tide of World War II

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Adapted for young readers from the #1 New York Times-bestselling The Guns at Last Light, D-Day captures the events and the spirit of that day--June 6, 1944--the day that led to the liberation of western Europe from Nazi Germany's control. They came by sea and by sky to reclaim freedom from the occupying Germans, turning the tide of World War II. Atkinson skillfully guides his younger audience through the events leading up to, and of, the momentous day in this photo-illustrated adaptation. Perfect for history buffs and newcomers to the topic alike!

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
★ 05/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—This fine adaptation of Atkinson's adult The Guns at Last Light is a readable, and even suspenseful, account of the final preparations for and successful execution of the D-Day invasion. The author gives readers a comprehensive overview of the operation, using primary-source excerpts to personalize the action, from the planning of the highest commanders, to the bravery shown by individual men who went ashore on June 6, 1944. He describes the stages of the invasion, including the transport of troops, air support and airborne operations, and ground operations conducted under withering German resistance. The author separates the five Allied landing forces into individual chapters, which allows for plenty of detail and continuity of narrative about their missions, and the varying amounts of German defenses and resistance they encountered. Although a brief epilogue summarizes the remainder of the war in Western Europe and Germany's defeat, the book focuses on the invasion and the bravery and sacrifices of the men who fought. The text is supplemented by solid area and battle maps, captioned period photos, and an informative appendix with accessible data about equipment and weapons, medical care, troops and their battle gear, and general statistics about the war. This book matches the quality of Earle Rice Jr.'s Normandy (Chelsea House, 2002) but is intended for a slightly older readership, making it an excellent choice for high school World War II buffs and report writers.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO
The New York Times Book Review - Steve Sheinkin
At just 200 or so pages, with photos on nearly every spread, D-Day has the look of a book for young readers. But it isn't written like one. Much of the text is taken unchanged from Atkinson's adult trilogy…This high tone works well because it respects the intelligence of its audience. The best children's books are never written for readers of a specific age, anyway…I'm confident that even students battered by textbooks into believing that history is boring can still be won over. The thing is, you can't just tell kids that history is cool; you have to prove it, and Atkinson does.
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Kate Neff
While there is no shortage of World War II books, this one is engaging, with pages filled with pictures, maps, and graphics that break the text up enough to keep readers’ attention throughout. Atkinson’s father served during WWII, so he brings his personal interest to the book, which also helps. There are many photos that are not commonly seen, and the maps are very detailed and easy to read. One of the best elements is the section after the epilogue. It has fast facts from the war, including largest battleships, weapons used by each country, and even what clothing the soldiers wore. Those kinds of facts are compelling and could enhance a student’s paper. For more mature readers, Atkinson also includes further reading. This is an accessible nonfiction book for the WWII fan as well as the student looking for a suitable source for a paper. Reviewer: Kate Neff; Ages 12 to 15.
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
On June 6, 1944 Allied forces launched one of the most important and impressive operations of the entire Second World War. On that date the combined Allied fleet sent tens of thousands of soldiers onto the beaches of Normandy in an offensive that was to change the course of the most deadly war in human history. D-Day, as the invasion of Europe by the Western Allies was to be called, marked a turning of the tide in the war against Hitler’s armed forces. While the Allied assault was to prove a critical victory in the war against Nazism, at the time it was initiated there was every reason to believe that the results were in question. But for the bravery and efforts of Allied soldiers and sailors, the D-Day landings could have been a terrible defeat rather than the victory it turned out to be. In D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, award winning historian Rick Atkinson provides an abbreviated sampling from his adult bestseller, The Guns At Last Light. Modified so that younger readers can follow the tangled events of the D-Day landings, this title does an excellent job of describing not only the facts but also the human interest elements of this important battle. As in his other writings, Atkinson is able to tell a historical story while also including anecdotal events in the lives of individual participants. This approach helps readers to feel more a part of the historic events while better appreciating the human cost of the happenings. This combination of approaches helps make this a book that will help younger readers appreciate the heroism needed to not only take the Normandy beaches but also defeat Hitler. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck; Ages 12 up.
Kirkus Reviews
This version of the much-admired The Guns at Last Light (2013) for younger audiences focuses on the drama and the astonishing scale of one of World War II's pivotal operations: the D-Day invasion. Having plainly done his research, Atkinson seats readers at secret meetings of the Allied commanders, ejects them with paratroopers over the foggy French countryside, puts them into landing craft to hear soldiers barf and exclaim, and sends them out to die bloodily on beaches wracked with enemy fire. Along the way, he also drops almost-unimaginable numbers: 301,000 Allied vehicles gathered for the invasion, 3,000 tons of maps, nearly 700 GIs killed in a single training exercise. He also provides fascinating sidelights, from the fiendishly clever disinformation campaign preceding the invasion to the contents of K-rations. For all its scope, the story is largely told from the Allied point of view, as most of the German side of the event is confined to a single chapter. Furthermore, all the rest of the war in Europe is likewise squeezed into a chapter around two lengthy congratulatory messages from (then) Gen. Eisenhower. Within its limits, a grand and historically significant tale told with dash and authority. (maps, charts, lists of major armies and figures, weaponry, personal supplies, timelines, photos) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

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Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Read an Excerpt

MAY 5, 1944

IN THIS ROOM, the greatest Anglo-American military leaders of World War II gathered to rehearse the deathblow intended to destroy Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. It was the 1,720th day of the war. Admirals, generals, field marshals, logisticians, and staff by the score climbed from their limousines and marched into a Gothic building of St. Paul’s School. American military policemen—known as Snowdrops for their white helmets, white pistol belts, white leggings, and white gloves—looked closely at the 146 engraved invitations and security passes distributed a month earlier. Then six uniformed ushers escorted the guests, later described as “big men with the air of fame about them,” into the Model Room, a cold auditorium with black columns and hard, narrow benches reputedly designed to keep young schoolboys awake. The students of St. Paul’s School had long been evacuated to rural England—German bombs had shattered seven hundred windows across the school’s campus.
Top-secret charts and maps now lined the Model Room. Since January, the school had served as headquarters for the British 21st Army Group, and here the detailed planning for Operation OVERLORD, the Allied invasion of France, had gelled. As the senior officers found their benches in rows B through J, some spread blankets across their laps or cinched their overcoats against the chill. Row A, fourteen armchairs arranged elbow to elbow, was reserved for the highest of the mighty, and now these men began to take their seats. The prime minister of England, Winston Churchill, dressed in a black coat and holding his usual Havana cigar, entered with U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose title, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, signaled his leadership over all of the Allied forces in Europe. Neither cheers nor applause greeted them, but the assembly stood as one when King George VI strolled down the aisle to sit on Eisenhower’s right. Churchill bowed to his monarch, then resumed puffing his cigar.
As they waited to begin at the stroke of ten A.M., these big men with their air of importance had reason to rejoice in their joint victories and to hope for greater victories still to come in this war.
Since September 1939, war had raged across Europe, eventually spreading to North Africa and as far east as Moscow, capital of the Soviet Union. Germany, a country humiliated after World War I, had seen the rise of Adolf Hitler, a dictator who had dreams of conquering the continent. Beginning with Poland, his armies had crushed one nation after another, destroying cities and killing or enslaving millions of people. His collaborators in the Axis alliance, particularly Japan and Italy, pushed their own campaigns of aggression in Asia and Africa.
Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and Japan’s attack in December of that year on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, led to a grand alliance determined to stop the Axis. The United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union were the major Allied powers, but they were supported by dozens of other countries. At an enormous cost in blood, Soviet armies pushed the German invaders back through eastern Europe, mile by mile. German casualties there exceeded three million, and in 1944 nearly two-thirds of Hitler’s combat power remained tied up in the east.
The United States and Britain, meanwhile, had defeated German and Italian forces in North Africa. They then moved north across the Mediterranean Sea to conquer much of Italy, which surrendered and abandoned the Axis. The Third Reich, as Hitler called his empire, was ever more vulnerable to air attack. Allied planes flying from Britain, Italy, and Africa dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Germany and on German forces along various battle fronts. City by city, factory by factory, Germany was a country increasingly in flames. Although they paid a staggering cost in airplanes and flight crews, the U.S. Army Air Forces, Britain’s Royal Air Force, and the Canadian Air Force had won mastery of the European skies, even as Allied navies controlled the seas.
By the late spring of 1944, the Allies were ready to attempt something that had long seemed impossible: to invade what the Germans called “Fortress Europe” and begin the final campaign that would free citizens who had been enslaved since Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The hour of liberation had nearly arrived.
Copyright © 2014 by Rick Atkinson

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