Teddee's Reviews > Longest Day

Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
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May 03, 11

bookshelves: history
Read on May 02, 2011

Great narrative of the few days before D-Day and cursory overview of D-Day itself. Great storytelling by building up the scene starting with the few days leading up to D-Day. Rommel had instituted a massive buildup to fortify the coast against an invasion but he was hamstrung by Hitler retaining personal control of the Panzer divisions that would be crucial for counterattacking on D-Day and preventing the Allies from gaining a beachhead. He was actually on route to lobby Hilter for those divisions when the Allies landed. The Germans did not seriously anticipate that the Allies would take the strategic initiative with a landing at a surprise location, nor did they seriously anticipate the conditions that the Allies would deem required for a landing. The Germans also did not take seriously the need to react quickly to an invasion, and too much control was in the hands of officers that would normally be asleep at the time any invasion began (and whom junior officers were loathe to awaken). For the Allies, the need to maintain mission security meant thousands of troops on board ships and stationed off shore, all horribly seasick, awaiting the go ahead. There were only a few days in June that would have the right tide, weather, and moon conditions the mission demanded. When the meteorologists predicted there would be a not horrible day in June that was still below minimum conditions required for a landing, Eisenhower gave the go ahead for D-Day. My favorite part is Ryan's description of a German officer who has been alerted to Allied paratroopers and is scanning the waters at Omaha Beach and hasn't been able to detect anything for hours. Right at dawn, as he is about to give up and report that all is clear, as streaks of light penetrate the mist, he discovers the entire Allied fleet- thousands of ships- amassed in front of him. I can only imagine the shock and awe he must have felt.
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