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Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy
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Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy

(29th Infantry Division: Normandy to Victory #1)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  188 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Examines the experience of one infantry division - the 29th - during 45 days of combat from Omaha Beach on D-Day to the liberation at St Lo. Using interviews, official records and unit histories, this book follows the 29th from bloody landings at Omaha through the hedgerows of Normandy, illustrating the brutal realities of life on the front line.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 26th 1999 by Stackpole Books (first published 1989)
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Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

This book was a surprise, in a positive way. When I started it, I thought that this was going to be a so-so account of the 29th Infantry Division in Normandy, but it turned out to be very good, in part due to the prose of the author and the organization of the text.

“[The 29th] was in combat for 242 days. Total casualties were 28,776. The percent of turnover for the division as a whole—including staff, support elements, artillery units—was 204.” This quote from the forward takes on sig
Paul Haspel
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: d-day
Beyond the horror and bloodshed of Omaha Beach on D-Day, there would be much more fighting for the soldiers of the 29th U.S. Army Division to do as they made their way down through Normandy. And throughout his 1988 book Beyond the Beachhead, author Joseph Balkoski chronicles well the way in which this division of National Guardsmen from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia achieved all that was asked of them, and more, as they did their part to free France and begin the liberation of ...more
Jesper Jorgensen
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
After reading many a book about D-day I find it increasingly interesting too read books dealing with fragments of it.

This book is one such book. And what a book it is. Firstly neither this book will leave any doubt in the raeders mind that war is dirty and merciless businesses. And that the landings on Utah June 6th was a grave example. Balkoskis use of personal accounts stresses the point.

However this book was also a kind of 'wwii army divisions for dummies' to me. And the direct comparison in
Fredrick Danysh
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii, history
A well researched and written history of the US 29th Infantry Division leading from mobilization through the Battle for Normandy during World War II. There are excellent comparisons regarding the composition of the 29th and the German division that they faced on D-Day.
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book in WW2 literature. It details the transformation of a raw National Guard unit (the 29th Division) into the effective combat unit it was in Normandy. Having read pretty much everything there is on D-day, I can readily say that there is no one that more about the 29th Division in WW2 than Joe Balkoski.

Highly recomended no onl as a good basic book on the US Army in WW2, but also as a great work on the 29th and it's time in Normandy. I also highly recomend his foll up work
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-two
Excellent book detailing the efforts of the 29th Infantry Division from the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach to the capture of St. Lo in July of 1944. The author covers the call up of the National Guard division with men mostly hailing from Virginia and Maryland, their training in the U.S. and England, and their first taste of battle on bloody Omaha Beach. The writer also has details from the German Army units who were defending the French coast at Normandy (and not all of them were German).
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots to like about this book, especially the explanations of comparative German/ US organization and armaments and also replacement policy. These elements would be the reason I would hang on to this book for potential reference.

Otherwise, pretty much anecdotal — sort of a collective unit memoir. Biggest flaw — and it was BIG — is lack of maps. Details of tactics lose clarity without maps!!

So, maybe 2.75 stars after all.
Dennis Whitehead
The definitive story of the 29th Infantry Division during the Normandy invasion. Couple with Balkoski's other books on the 29th and you have a complete and authoritative collection on the division critical to America's success in World War II.
Ian Willey
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good read, some useful information for scenario design. My copy extra special as it was signed by the author and dedicated to one of the soldiers the book was written about :-)

Robert Mueller
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love to read about battles for research into my own travel guides to European battlefields. In this book, Balkoski brings to us the actions of the US 29th Infantry Division's Normandy Beach invasion and the struggle to fight through the easily defended "bocage" fields of Normandy. The capture of St-Lo serious depleted the unit's strength incurring enormous casualties. Believing that a respite was in order, the division was instead sent to capture the town of Vire. By this time most of the indi ...more
Paul Haspel
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Joseph Balkoski's Beyond the Beachhead tells in an energetic and effective manner the story of the U.S. Army's 29th Infantry Division during the opening phases of the Normandy invasion. The 29th Division was unique among the Allied divisions that struck the coast of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The 29th, the "Blue and Gray," consisted mainly of National Guard troops from Maryland and Virginia, in contrast to the regular Army divisions that made up the rest of the American invasion force on D-Day. L ...more
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
This is one of the better volumes I've read dealing with US Infantry tactics & equipment and training and combat in summer 1944. The book covers the 29th Infantry Div from call up to the liberation of St Lo, aside from that there's detailed comparisons to the German troops they fought and side by side break down of equipment and weapons and even the replacement system for soldiers. I was very impressed by this book.
Christopher Hardisty
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: normandy, wwii
I really liked that it followed one division (the 29th) from preparing for D-Day clear through pushing inland. Seems so many are more big-picture or just dealing with D-Day itself. With this book, you are able to visualize the regiments, command structure, armament, and the soldiers themselves. I guess it's similar to Band of Brothers in some of those regards. Plenty of maps to keep a picture in your head of where the regiments were and a quick Google Map of France can help you too.
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
A good resource if you're looking for highly specialized information about one unit in WWII...or if you're looking for a more general picture of the US infantry in Normandy in the months after the invasion. My one critique of the book is that it spends so much time on the years between WWI and II, but ends rather abruptly after the capture of St. Lo. An epilogue detailing the 29th's activities in larger Europe would have been nice (or a companion piece--even nicer).
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
An excellent history book. The writing was engaging and it was very easy to read. Sometimes the digressions onto the background of the soldiers seemed to get a little long, but I learned things, and this is good.

Now I need to get out my copy of St.Lo (a wargame designed by the author) and play it.
Lincoln Clark
Jul 28, 2008 rated it liked it
A good World War II book that gives who an understanding what an infanty division went through as they fought for every inch of land in World War II from Normandy and as they advanced through France.
Bill Lenoir
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good narrative of the battles after the beach assault and through the breakout.
Adam Palmer
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book the tells the story of the 29th Infantry divisions's part in the invasion of Normandy.
William Oneill
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I own this book and have read it through several times. Beyond the Beachead picks up the story of the Blue and Gray Division from June 7, 1944 through the end of the war.
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A seminal piece of WWII history and a great lead-in to Joe's multi-volume history of the 29th.
Aug 09, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: others-recommend, ww2
This book was recommended in one of the "Bookmarks" magazine's issues of either: (Nov/ Dec 2007) or (Jan/ Feb 2008).
Daniel King
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Dan Schroeder
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Jul 22, 2011
John Nevola
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May 29, 2014
Chris Prokopiak
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Sep 16, 2015
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Apr 24, 2019
Rich Strickland
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Mar 17, 2013
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Feb 08, 2015
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Joseph Balkoski is one of the world's leading authorities on the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He currently serves as Command Historian for the Maryland National Guard and for more than thirty years has chronicled the WWII history of the 29th Infantry Division.

Other books in the series

29th Infantry Division: Normandy to Victory (5 books)
  • From Beachhead to Brittany: The 29th Infantry Division at Brest, August-September 1944
  • From Brittany to the Reich: The 29th Infantry Division in Germany, September-November 1944
  • Our Tortured Souls: The 29th Infantry Division in the Rhineland, November - December 1944
  • The Last Roll Call: The 29th Infantry Division Victorious, 1945

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