Matt Hartzell's Reviews > D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches

D-Day, June 6, 1944 by Stephen E. Ambrose
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Dec 10, 10

bookshelves: history
Recommended for: WWII Buffs
Read in December, 2010

Another great read from Stephen Ambrose. D-Day was a vastly different experience from something like Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, as Ambrose spends 500+ pages on a single 24 hour period in World War II. It was interesting to go from a birds-eye view of history to ground level, but I don't know if I necessarily prefer it. While something like Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich barely touched many events, the level of detail in D-Day was at times a bit much for me.

There were some parts that were extremely interesting. Ambrose writes about the similarities and differences between Eisenhower and Rommel. He spends a significant amount of time discussing planning, training, and marshaling even before diving into D-Day proper. He covers every facet of the operation, including the airborne, navy, infantry, commanders, and even the defenders. Ambrose also looks at each landing beach individually, spending the most time on the landing at Omaha. I did not at all get a sense that Ambrose devalued the contributions of Britain and Canada at the other beaches, but rather he spends so much time on Omaha because the experiences of infantry on that beach were exceptionally more terrifying and difficult than at any other landing zone.

Just as in Citizen Soldiers, Ambrose uses much of the space recounting the experiences of privates and NCO's in the assault. There are some truly memorable and surreal moments. One example is when a French woman walked between the Allied and German lines putting eggs into a basket, and both sides stopped firing while she did so, immediately resuming after she left the area. The book gives great significance to both the men who trained for years and were blown to pieces before even leaving the landing craft and those who somehow made it off the beaches and went on to make the Allied landing successful. I also appreciated how Ambrose delved into the engineering feats pulled off by American and British industry.

As I continue to read more and more about this period in history, I'm becoming more convinced that it is one the crowning achievements of the Allied nations.
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Reading Progress

11/23/2010 page 166
25.0% "The planning, preparation and marshaling for D-Day was astounding"

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