D-Day: The Battle for Normandy

( 74 )

Overview

The #1 internationally bestselling history of D-Day is now enhanced with rare video footage from the NBC News Archives for the ultimate narrative of the battle for Normandy.

"Glorious, horrifying...D-Day is a vibrant work of history that honors the sacrifice of tens of thousands of men and women."—Time

Fans of Ben Macintyre's Double Cross will love this history by Antony Beevor —the man who "single-handedly transformed the reputation of ...

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Overview

The #1 internationally bestselling history of D-Day is now enhanced with rare video footage from the NBC News Archives for the ultimate narrative of the battle for Normandy.

"Glorious, horrifying...D-Day is a vibrant work of history that honors the sacrifice of tens of thousands of men and women."—Time

Fans of Ben Macintyre's Double Cross will love this history by Antony Beevor —the man who "single-handedly transformed the reputation of military history" (The Guardian)—presents the first major account of the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Paris in more than twenty years. D-Day: The Battle for Normandy is the first book to describe not only the experiences of the American, British, Canadian, and German soldiers, but also the terrible suffering of the French civilians caught up in the fighting. Beevor draws upon research in more than thirty archives in six countries, going back to original accounts and interviews to produce the consummate account of the invasion and the ferocious offensive that led to Paris's liberation.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
…a dramatic, important and instructive story, and Beevor tells it surpassingly well. D-Day is very much a work of military history, so of necessity it is chockablock with the sort of battlefield chess-playing that can leave the non-military mind in a state of considerable confusion. But Beevor is less interested in moving troops from pillar to post than in telling us what war was like for them and for the civilians whose paths they crossed. Readers fortunate enough to know his previous books…are aware that his fascination with warfare is compounded by a deep knowledge, not always encountered in military histories, that war is hell…Yes, it was a great victory the Allies won in Normandy, and to this day all of us should be grateful to those who won it. But the cost, as Antony Beevor is at pains to emphasize in this fine book, was awful beyond comprehension.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Beevor has established a solid reputation as a chronicler of WWII's great eastern front battles: Stalingrad and Berlin. In addressing D-Day, he faces much wider competition with historians like Stephen Ambrose and Max Hastings, who also use his method of integrating personal experiences, tactical engagements, operational intentions and strategic plans. Beevor combines extensive archival research with a remarkable sense of the telling anecdote: he quotes, for example, an officer's description of the “bloody mass of arms and legs and heads, [and] cremated corpses” created by artillery fire as the Germans tried to escape the Allied breakout. He is sharply critical of senior commanders on both sides: Bernard Montgomery's conceit; Adolf Hitler's self-delusion; Dwight Eisenhower's mediocrity. His heroes are the men who took the invasion ashore and carried it forward into Normandy in the teeth of a German defense whose skill and determination deserved a better cause. The result was a battle of attrition: a “bloody slog” that tested British and American fighting power to the limit—but not beyond. Beevor says that it wasn't Allied forces' material superiority but their successful use of combined arms and their high learning curve that were decisive in a victory that shaped postwar Europe. Maps, illus. (Oct. 13)
The Sunday Times (London)
This is as powerful and authoritative an account of the battle for Normandy as we are likely to get in this generation . . . . Nobody knows better than Beevor how to translate the dry stuff of military history into human drama of the most vivid and moving kind. His book offers a thousand vignettes of drama, terror, cruelty, compassion, courage and cowardice. He is especially good in describing the sufferings of civilians on the battlefield, whose plight is often ignored.
—Max Hastings
The Mail on Sunday
Beevor is singularly expert at homing in on those telltale human details that reveal just what it would have been like to be in Normandy in the summer of 1944 . . . His description of the first American landings, at Omaha Beach, is quite terrifying.
—Craig Brown
Daily Express
There is no writer that can surpass Beevor in making sense of a crowded battlefield and in balancing the explanation of tactical manoeuvres with poignant flashes of human detail . . . dramatic, exciting, well-paced and lucid.
—Christopher Silvester
Sunday Telegraph
Beevor's previous books on the siege of Stalingrad and the fall of Berlin led us to expect something special from D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, and he does not disappoint . . . .The chapter on the Omaha Beach landings is almost the literary version of the opening scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan, with the same horror and pace.
—Andrew Roberts
The Times (Book of the Week)
Beevor tells it all with the soldier's eye for what matters on the ground as much as with the historian's for the broader understanding of events.
—Allan Mallinson
Library Journal
The story of operation Overlord and the French-coast landings on D-day, June 6, 1944, has been recounted many times both in print and on the big screen. It is certainly a story worth retelling, and Beevor (Stalingrad) does it well, combining contemporary accounts with a moving narrative, beginning on June 2, 1944, and ending with the liberation of Paris in August. He relates the operation from all points of view, from the commanders to the men on the beaches, giving equal time to all participants and including, more unusually, the experiences of the French civilians involved. Civilian casualties ran into the tens of thousands, a fact either ignored or given short shrift in most books. Beevor shifts perspectives smoothly, enabling the reader to follow along without confusion, from the U.S. landings on Omaha and Utah beaches to the British and Canadians landings on Sword and Juno beaches, to the airborne incursion and the German response. VERDICT Beevor has written an in-depth campaign history, comparable to Max Hastings's Overlord and Carlo D'Este's Decision in Normandy, that should be read by beginners and experts alike. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09.]—David Lee Poremba, Windermere, FL
Kirkus Reviews
The grand Allied invasion of Normandy had myriad ways to go wrong, writes historian Beevor (The Mystery of Olga Chekhova, 2004, etc.) in this skilled account. Miraculously, it did not. "Everyone in Britain knew that D-Day was imminent," the author writes, "and so did the Germans." What kept the Germans from knowing the exact details of the attack is the stuff of legend-and a massive program of disinformation and double-agenting, which Beevor deftly relates. The larger outlines of the story are well-known; historians and journalists from John Keegan to Cornelius Ryan have had their say about the matter. To this Beevor adds sharp observations derived from the archives, among them the unsettling fact that just before the invasion almost every American unit involved was rated "unsatisfactory," most having never experienced combat before. Fortunately, the Germans across the English Channel were divided in how to respond. As the author notes, Erwin Rommel wanted to concentrate his troops near the landing sites, while his superior officers wanted to assemble a mighty counterattack in the woods north of Paris. Elements of both strategies were hastily assembled as needed, and in either event they cost the Allies plenty. One of the strongest elements of the book is Beevor's inclusion of sometimes overlooked and discounted actors, including French Resistance forces and veterans of the Polish army who had made their way west, and who told their French counterparts, "You will be liberated . . . but we will be occupied for years and years." As the author writes, the Germans had an international army, too, including Cossack forces that were mowed down as they rode into battle. His account of atrocitieson both sides, of errors committed and of surpassing bravery makes for excellent-though often blood-soaked-reading. Beevor gets better with each book. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg/Andrew Nurnberg Associates
The Barnes & Noble Review
"As the ramp went down we were getting direct fire right into our craft," wrote a soldier in the 116th on the western part of Omaha. "My three squad leaders in front and others were hit. Some men climbed over the side. Two sailors got hit. I got off in water only ankle deep. I tried to crawl but the water suddenly was up to my hips. I crawled to hide behind the steel beach obstacle. Bullets hit off of it and through my pack missing me. Others hit more of my men."
Renowned military historian Antony Beevor, author of the bestselling Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945, here uses the words of a U.S. infantryman to evoke the famous June 6, 1944 landing at Omaha Beach, part of the massive Operation Overlord, when the Allies invaded Nazi-occupied France and began pushing Hitler’s armies eastward into the German fatherland. Beevor’s impressively researched and accessibly narrated account of the turning point of World War II begins a few days before the invasion, as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower prays for good weather, and ends on August 25th, when Allied troops triumphantly liberate Paris. The focus swivels with meticulous precision to illuminate the military, political, and personal dynamics on all sides, offering the perspectives of the American, British, Canadian, French, and German militaries.

Though the successful invasion would be seen for decades as a symbol for the spirit of cooperation between the Allies, Beevor opens D-Day with a close look at the strong strategic differences and seemingly intractable personality conflicts that threatened the cohesiveness of the operation. In the days before the massive June 6th landing, General Eisenhower was a wreck, concerned about the weather and final preparations while trying to keep his fractious Allies together. “Although outwardly relaxed,” Beevor writes of Ike, “with his famous open smile for everyone whatever their rank, he was smoking up to four packs of Camel cigarettes a day. He would light a cigarette, leave it smoldering in an ashtray, jump up, walk around and light another one. His nerves were not helped by constant cups of coffee.” Ike had ample reason for nervousness.

Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, the legendarily pompous and egocentric British commander, tolerated his boss Eisenhower as a person but had absolutely no respect for him as a military leader. Beevor cites Monty’s dismissal of Ike: “Nice chap, no soldier.” Eisenhower also had the almost impossible task of keeping France’s General Charles DeGaulle -- a man who was perhaps even more vainglorious than Montgomery -- happy. When, for example, Ike saw no military rationale for occupying Paris in August 1944 and preferred bypassing it so as to continue pushing the Nazi armies eastward, the high-maintenance DeGaulle had a fit and threatened to divide the Allied armies by ordering his French troops to occupy Paris. DeGaulle got his way.

Even within American ranks, Eisenhower had untamed personalities to manage, most famously General George S. Patton. Although Patton hated Montgomery’s guts (they were bitter rivals for military glory), he shared Monty’s low opinion of Ike as a military man. Patton, Beevor tells us, considered his commander a mere politician who wanted popularity. Patton rejected Ike’s democratic style of leadership: “A commander cannot command and be on the same level [as his troops].... I try to arouse fighting emotion -- he tries for votes.” But despite the criticism directed Ike’s way from many sources, Beevor portrays him as a selfless leader whose diplomatic skills and singular ability to collaborate kept the Allies working -- and winning -- together.

If Beevor brilliantly showcases the fractious relations among the leaders on the Allied side, he doesn't fail to show how similar disarray undermined the Germans' efforts. Perhaps most significant was Hitler's insistence on his own judgment over those of his commanders. In the days before June 6th, Hitler believed an invasion would come, but he refused to be convinced that it would come in Normandy. Beevor recounts the very successful Allied disinformation campaign that fed into Hitler’s mistaken preconceptions -- so effective that when the Allied invasion hit the Normandy beaches, Hitler considered it a diversion. His fateful delays of reinforcements allowed the Allies to establish the crucial beachhead.

Hitler’s bad relationship with his generals made disagreements on the Allied side seem like momentary squabbles. The German commander in charge of defending Normandy, the famed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, disagreed completely with Hitler on how the German army should be deployed. Hitler wanted his troops to give no ground, to fight to the death for every inch. Rommel, on the other hand, wanted a more flexible defense that would mean pulling back, concentrating his forces, and pounding the Allies with a massive counterattack. Hitler won this battle, but Rommel remained furious.

As Beevor explains, “Hitler’s blind belief was that his new Vengeance weapon [the V-1 missile] would knock Britain out of the war.” But Hitler’s fantasies never materialized -- though horribly damaging to their civilian targets, the rockets were unable to alter the fundamental military equation. Hitler “was out of touch with reality," writes Beevor, “and when his dreams failed to materialize, he looked for scapegoats.” In the ongoing war between Hitler and his generals, the Führer executed some for not following his “no surrender” policy -- and a few responded by attempting to assassinate their paranoid leader.

D-Day's account of the June 6th amphibious landing, its chaos and carnage at beaches like Omaha and Sword -- as some 175,000 men arrived in waves while German defenders aimed artillery and machine-gun fire their way -- and the grind-it-out fighting in the weeks after, is military history at its visceral best. Beevor’s understanding of the strategic situation on both sides, and the personalities and leadership, gives his readers a solid sense of what’s at stake in each battle. But the book also makes plenty of room for the moment-by-moment struggles of enlisted men facing possible death and certain exhaustion, and working tirelessly to complete the job -- often quoted from their own letters home and interviews that render their point of view as close to nakedly as one can get.

The war's turning point, Beevor makes clear, was nothing as simple or swift as a day's taking of beachheads. The reality was more brutal and exhausting. Normandy would end up as a battle of attrition favoring the Allies. The Germans were fighting on two fronts, the Eastern (against Stalin’s armies) and Western (in Normandy) and were being slowly bled dry. Beevor gives us a typical example from the German side: “Army Group B reported that since the [June 6th] invasion they had suffered 151,487 casualties, dead, wounded and missing. They had received fewer than 20,000 replacements.” The total cost of the Normandy invasion and its aftermath on the German side was 240,000 casualties and another 200,000 taken prisoner. The Allied losses were similar, but they could replace their losses, while each day of defending the conquered ground sapped Germany's ability to do so.

Beevor ends his comprehensive account with French troops entering Paris on August 25th. It is to General Eisenhower’s credit that he allowed the French armies to claim the invasion as a French victory and to promote the illusion that “[t]he shame of 1940 [surrender to Germany] and the Occupation” had never happened. By compromising here, allowing DeGaulle and France to believe that they had won, Eisenhower ensured that the Allies would stay together during the final push eastward into Germany. Brilliant fighting men like Patton and Montgomery were against allowing the French to engage in triumphalist fantasies, but Eisenhower had a war to win, and he proved, contra Montgomery, that he was the supreme soldier -- for he would sacrifice almost anything to beat Hitler. The war would be over within months. --Chuck Leddy

Chuck Leddy is a member of the National Book Critics Circle who writes frequently about American history. He reviews books regularly for The Boston Globe, as well as Civil War Times and American History magazines. He is a contributing editor for The Writer magazine.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118183
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 178,652
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Antony Beevor is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed and prize-winning books The Battle for Spain, Paris After the Liberation: 1944-1949, Stalingrad, and The Fall of Berlin 1945. He lives in England.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps

Glossary

1 The Decision 1

2 Bearing the Cross of Lorraine 14

3 Watch on the Channel 31

4 Sealing off the Invasion Area 44

5 The Airborne Assault 51

6 The Armada Crosses 74

7 Omaha 88

8 Utah and the Airborne 114

9 Gold and Juno 125

10 Sword 136

11 Securing the Beachheads 152

12 Failure at Caen 170

13 Villers-Bocage 186

14 The Americans on the Cotentin Peninsula 207

15 Operation Epsom 223

16 The Battle of the Bocage 241

17 Caen and the Hill of Calvary 263

18 The Final Battle for Saint-Lo 252

19 Operation Goodwood 305

20 The Plot against Hitler 325

21 Operation Cobra - Breakthrough 342

22 Operation Cobra - Breakout 366

23 Brittany and Operation Bluecoat 380

24 The Mortain Counter-attack 398

25 Operation Totalize 422

26 The Hammer and Anvil 441

27 The Killing Ground of the Falaise Pocket 459

28 The Paris Uprising and the Race for the Seine 480

29 The Liberation of Paris 498

30 Aftermath 519

Acknowledgements 525

Notes 527

Select Bibliography 570

Index 576\

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 74 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Good book, but Not a Great One on D-Day

    Anthoney Beevor's newly released book on D-Day and the events that followed up to the liberation of Paris, is a very informative book. It is a good book but not a great book. Beevor covers in well documented detail, the war on the Western Front with Nazi Germany. At first I was prejudiced about this aspect of the war compared to the much larger campaigns on the Eastern Front. This book does a good job of explaining how the Allies were facing a very real threat with 9-10 divisions on a 60 mile front versus the same amount of fire in the east on a 200 mile front. In general, the book covers the pre-D-Day scenarios, the landing, and the slow progress of the Allies in the weeks and months after the invasion. It goes into detail about many of the important events, i.e failures at Caen, St.-Lo, Operation Colbra, to name a few. Also off interest is the plot against Hitler, and the final liberation of Paris.
    Beevor not only covers the personalities of the many generals, like Montgomery, Bradley and Patton, but also the rest of the players from colonels on down to privates. This is done on both sides and is one of the strong points of the book. He also does a good job on how the war affected the people of France and the power struggle that developed between De gaulle and the French Communist party. A very interesting part was the super storm on June 19th, 1944, that played a large part in the war, and would have been a total disaster for the Allies if they had planned their invasion two weeks later. One advantage this book has over previous accounts of the war is that it was released in 2009. By this time, many if not all of the classified information, had been released so the reader is treated to many new revelations. Not only does he do a good job of weaving Ultra intelligence (the breaking of the German signal codes) into the accounts but also the role of the clandestine Jedburghs teams (Special Operations Teams) as well. This was very well done.
    The invasion and the aftermath was not a smooth operation as many believed. There were many poor decisions made that cost the lives of many soldiers. Some of note were: the friendly fire mishaps by allied bombers, Commanders failing to quickly attack the Germans after pounding the enemy with artillery, the over bombing of many French villages, and the many mistakes made by the generals, most noticeably Field Marshall Montgomery. It is refreshing to get the full picture with both the good and the bad. We get into the minds of both Allies and Germans and see the human and inhuman side of both. Much is discussed on how the German generals were in a bind, knowing that the war was lost but still had to pledge allegiance to Hitler and obey his crazy orders.
    I think that many will find this book informative, but I liked Beevors' other books better. It covered many things well, but it was not a fluid read and a little choppy. There are maps to show details of the many battles, a wonderful picture section in the middle of the book and a small glossary to help the reader with military terms. But when I read Beevor's earlier book on the Battle of Stalingrad, I was so impressed I read it twice. Maybe it was that at that time in the war all looked lost, and the Soviet Army started to turn the tide. In mid-1944, things were not as critical and the battles were not as impressive. I am not sure. Either way, this book was not nearly as good as his other works.
    Robert Glasker

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2009

    A good but not great book!

    This is a good solid work, well written with excellent descriptive writing of actual combat. It is not however up to this author's usual high standards. There is little of the operational or strategic overview that should be part of this narrative. The issues relating to planning at the highest levels--Roosevelt, Churchill ,Marshall et al are glossed over. There are many excellent works relating to D-Day. Unfortunately, this book adds nothing to them. There are many better books on the subject, and the works of D'Este and Hastings come immediately to mind.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2011

    Fine book on a well documented event

    It is hard to write a book on D-day that is interesting yet has new facts. This book does both. Add that to the "amplification" for the Nook, and it's a great read cover to cover.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    A different take on D-Day

    I enjoyed the comments on some of the different personalities, especially Montegomery; they confirmed my opinion of that egocentric character. Also,
    the discussion of the French civilian population's trials and suffering is rarely covered in other works. The discussions of the political rivalaries
    on both sides of the conflict was quite interesting. All in all, a good
    history!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Worth Reading

    For those that wish to get more detail concerning the day to day conflict in Normandy from June 6 to the liberation of Paris, this is a great source. Well worth the time if you are a history buff or have always wondered how the Normandy Invasion was really fought beyond what little you might learn in the movies or on TV.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2011

    Amazing

    Very ggood book

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    not much new

    not much new

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Awsome for WW2

    This book is great,between the facts to the accounts it wil get a retarted child a smart historian

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Very good

    Excellent account of D-Day and the Normandy campaign

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2011

    Recommend but would be easier to follow if maps were legible.

    The accompanying maps are so small as to be virtually unreadable.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2011

    Recommend for anyone interested in D-Day

    Well researched book and interesting. At times was a little hard to follow, but I guess I got too used to Stephen Ambrose. Do not like to nit pick, but author uses constantly uses "further" when he should have used "farther" when related to distance. I particularly enjoyed his account of the Liberation of Paris.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    great book.....lots of new information

    this book covers a subject that has been retold extensively in many other books and movies. the difference is that the author had access to materials and information never available before. he tells the story in such a way that you can share the experiences, range of emotions and feelings that the individual soldiers went through.
    must reading for any wwll or any war buff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2009

    D-Day

    Concise, yet interesting.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 12, 2009

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    Posted December 16, 2009

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    Posted December 4, 2009

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    Posted June 24, 2010

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    Posted September 10, 2011

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews

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