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The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,644 ratings  ·  146 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Liberator and Avenue of Spies returns with an utterly immersive, adrenaline-driven account of D-Day combat.

"Meet the assaulters: Pathfinders plunging from the black, coxswains plowing the whitecaps, bareknuckle Rangers scaling sheer rock... Fast-paced and up-close, this is history's greatest story reinvigorated as only Alex Ker
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Dutton Caliber
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 ·  3,644 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mr. Kershaw again delivers a fascinating look at World War II. With this narrative, Mr. Kershaw tells the story of the first men into Normandy as well as well as a look at their enemies. Well known events such as the British Glider landing at Pegasus Bridge and the US Ranges at Pointe Du Hoc are told. More obscure events are also included in the narrative. This includes the story of the 101st Abn Div’s pathfinders, who the first American's into Normandy, shortly after midnight. The stories of th ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher in expectation of a fair review. I have read three of Alex Kershaw's books prior to this one and enjoyed every one. "The First Wave" stands up nicely with his previous works. Kershaw brings us the stories of the individual participants before, during and after D-Day. Mostly the Allied side of the day is told but there are a few Germans (and Poles, Russians forced to fight) stories as well. Pointe du Hoc, Pegasus Bridge, and other well known eve ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww2-d-day
Note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A tremendous first hand account in the vein of George Koskimaki's 101st Airborne trilogy with one major exception - Alex Kershaw weaves multiple individual narratives together into a cohesive on the beaches and in the trenches account of the D-Day invasion of Europe. Mr. Kershaw once again demonstrates his ability to tell a personal story on a grand stage. All variety of units are covered in this D-Day epic from the P
Jill Mackin
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Heroes all.
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr-pile-at-home
Kershaw A does it again. At first you feel mildly disappointed to thread the same ground as every other D-Day book with its focus on Omaha, Pegasus & the Pointe. Lovat and his piper. The Rangers. Howard at the Bridge. Roosevelt and Cota urging on those about to die.

Then he starts to "walk with the men" , descending from the lofty history of the invasion to the grit of five senses in a bridgehead that seemed to expand at the cost of a company per hedge and ready to collapse under Panzer tracks f
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history, war
I don't believe that any written description of the events on D-Day will ever be able to do justice and accurately impart to any reader the magnitude of the death, destruction, heroism, scale, logistics, and importance of the operation. That being said, I salute the authors who have tried to do just that – because it is so important that we who were not there at least get an inkling of the sacrifices that were made by so many for the benefit of so many more. I also need to shout out to Steven Sp ...more
Dan Schaeberle
Nov 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, really good book. I think a lot of people think all D-Day was, was the US storming the beaches of Normandy but there was so much more to it. This book goes into detail about the Canadian troops, the British troops and the US troops and their firsthand detail of the night before the invasion, what happened during the invasion and what happened afterward.
I only gave it 4 stars bc it does get kind of boring at times but I do highly recommend this book for history buffs.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What some people did on our behalf during World War II is breathtaking. Kershaw captures their deeds with precision and feeling.
Alex Kershaw
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Available in paperback May 2020
Nicky Inskeep
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know if it is because I did the Normandy staff ride with some Brits this year or what, but - I just really really loved this book. I loved that it approached D-Day from different units/nations perspective, it talked about the Canadians and Pegasus Bridge, which I didn’t know much about until preparing for our staff ride, and that it gives some closer on key individuals at the end. Absolutely would recommend reading, and the audiobook was equally well read!
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you Penguin/Berkley for the advanced copy. In Herman Wouk’s, War and Remembrance, there is a section in which he pulls himself out of the fictional narrative, and lists the names of the torpedo bomber squadron that sacrificed their lives in a heroic attack on Japanese aircraft carriers during the battle of Midway. Wouk said something like, and I paraphrase, after we’ve bombed ourselves back to the caves, when we tell tales of historic deeds, we’ll remember heroes like these. I feel this wa ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
Effectively Presents D-Day as an Allied Effort …

This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free copy of the book.

D-Day is arguably the most documented event in military history. With the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings approaching, Alex Kershaw offers a book that presents the operation through the eyes of those who spearheaded the attempt to liberate Western Europe. Even with the vast number of D-Day books available, I found THE FIRST WAVE to be a refresh
Cassie’s Reviews
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In remembrance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day I read this well written account of D-Day. I added this to my shelf, because I want to learn more about World War 2 and the lives that were lost and the families who lost their family members. The first thing that jumped out to me about this book is how it’s mostly told in first person viewpoints, so you feel like your right there with them feeling their fear, terror and confusion and their shock of the violence around them. The warriors/hero’s tha ...more
Donna Hines
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
With the 75th anniversary concluding on June 6th 2019 this is a wonderful new work examining a sneak peek into the WWII heroes of Normandy and what it took to lead the way to victory. The D-Day Warriors were courageous in battle and in life.
They answered the call to duty without hesitation or reservation and dropped what they needed to serve their nation in honor many giving the ultimate sacrifice so that others may know freedom.
The British Glider landing at Pegasus Bridge as well as the US Rang
John Bond
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good personal recounting of what might be the most important day of the 20th Century. Well done.
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of one of the most storied and epochal events dotting the annals of global and military history. The colossal Allied invasion at Normandy (“D-Day”) that set in motion the defeat of the greatest racial bigots that humanity had the misfortune to be associated with, has become immortal not just for the supreme sacrifices made by thousands of brave soldiers, but also for the lessons it imparted for the very future of mankind. As may be expected this momentous Annivers ...more
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent account of the first soldiers to land in Normandy on D-Day.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2-on-land
An epic book by Alex Kershaw following the men who spearheaded the first wave of the Normandy landings. The books' protagonists are mostly officers and NCO's and he follows them from the build up through to the end of their epic journeys on D-Day. Mr. Kershaw covers all the significant events of the day from the British airborne operations on the eastern flank. through all the landing beaches, including Pointe du Hoc to the American airborne landings on the western flank, and in between stories ...more
Tori Allen
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was so well-written, and read more like a fiction or historical fiction than a true history book. I devoured it over Memorial Day Weekend. It was well-researched, characters were well described, and the overall military plan was demonstrated and made easy to understand and remember. Definitely one of my favorite WWII books.
Míceál  Ó Gealbháin
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you want to crawl into a foxhole, fly in a Spitfire, storm the beach in a Higgins Boat then pick up a book by Alex Kershaw. Alex has written another good one. The only negative thing I can say about finishing a Kershaw book is waiting for him to publish the next one.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very good and informative account of D-Day and beyond. Very easy to read. The level of heroism from so many men is unfathomable. I especially like how Kershaw tells of what happened to many of the characters after the war. I always wonder how deeply the events of that day and the ensuing battles impacted the men who fought. My one criticism is that I wish Kershaw had stopped and saved the post-D-Day events for another book. The Battle of the Bulge, invasion of Germany, and liberation of concen ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can get lost in a Kershaw book for hours. The jumping between nations, armies, and individuals was completed flawlessly.
Albert Town
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
On a date that is well, and familiar -6 June1944, after receiving the order to proceed with the invasion after several months of intense planning, and rehearsal, the Allied Army moved towards its objective.
What was written in this piece is about the men of were the inital assault be it either by air or sea, and the maelstrom they faced against a well prepared German Army.
In the movie "Saving Pvt. Ryan" the opening scene is said to resemble what our soldiers, British soliders, and Candian soldi
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another fantastic book by Kershaw! This is the fourth of his books that I’ve read. I’ve enjoyed all of them immensely.

It follows several soldiers, paratroopers and commandos from all aspects of the First Wave of D Day. Great maps which were very helpful in following the narrative.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance reading copy from the publisher.

Wow. WW2 is not my preferred subject matter, but still....This book belongs on the same shelf as the tomes written by Stephen Ambrose. I read through this book in just over one day. It was an adrenaline fueled adventure from start to finish. And what better way to commemorate D-Day than a robust addition to the vast WW2 literature. A fantastic read.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another great WW2 book by Alex Kershaw. The personal stories are so heart breaking and his descriptions are so vivid. Alex writes so very well and even if you know the history of D-Day, I highly recommend you read this book. The book is just over 300 pages a perfect length. This is a great read!
David Barnes
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great personal stories
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another great book from Alex Kershaw. The First Wave tells the story of Allied troops, from the American and British airborne divisions who parachuted behind enemy lines on the night before D day, to the Allied soldiers who hit the beaches of Normandy under enemy fire, This is an extraordinary book of the men who had the courage and fought and push their way to liberate France from German occupation.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love Kershaw's style of writing - so readable! ...more
Harry Yarwood
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read.

Fast paced. Felt I shared the experience with the soldiers and others that the author portrays; I shared their reality.
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THE WORLD WAR TWO...: 2019 - June - D-Day & Battles of 1944 215 90 Jul 18, 2019 10:33PM  
THE WORLD WAR TWO...: * 17th May - "The First Wave" by Alex Kershaw 40 87 May 29, 2019 11:44AM  

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Alex Kershaw is the author of the widely acclaimed best sellers The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Few, #TheLiberator, the basis for the Netflix drama, and Escape from the Deep, as well as biographies of Jack London, Raoul Wallenberg and Robert Capa. His latest book is The First Wave: The D Day Warriors Who Led The Way to Victory in WWII. He lives in Savannah.

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“It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.” 0 likes
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