One of the latest, Our Finest Day: D-Day, June 6, 1944, offers something new: "removable artifacts," copies from the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, that aim to put the battle right in readers' hands.
One page holds part of a pocket guide to France that was issued to all the troops - with reminders such as "You are a guest of France." A folder marked "top secret" holds the battle plan for an infantry division. A small piece of paper contains Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's famous "Orders of the Day" that told participants, "You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months."
The 30 pages are filled with photos. Author Mark Bowden, who also wrote Black Hawk Down, here gives a complete if cursory overview of the day that turned the tide of World War II.
Even with an introduction by Mr. Ambrose, the book would run the risk of adding up to a gimmick - were it not for its inclusion of blood-saturated first-person accounts from combatants, such as this one from Pvt. William Marshall:
"I could not avoid stepping over bodies as I ran down the beach...Bodies, strewn from the water's edge to the dune line, rested in every imaginable position and every condition of integrity. Some were isolated, others in groups. They represented every rank and grade from private to colonel, impressing the youthful mind that in death all were brought to the same level of earthly value."
More than any "removable artifact," such descriptions bring to life, the horrors of the battle - and remind readers why the nation honors those people who willingly endured it. -The Dallas Morning News