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The Miracle of Dunkirk

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,284 ratings  ·  329 reviews
Walter Lord's account of how 'the miracle of Dunkirk' came about is based on hundreds of interviews with survivors of all the nations that fought among the sand dunes.
Paperback, 324 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Combined Publishing (first published 1982)
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Tom Gardner I agree with Damon Henreichs. Mark Lewis is correct that there is a great deal of detail, but you don't need maps, nor is there any need to track the…moreI agree with Damon Henreichs. Mark Lewis is correct that there is a great deal of detail, but you don't need maps, nor is there any need to track the participants. Lord conveys the miracle of the evacuation precisely through the individual stories of hundreds of participants (rather than the movie, which threads together three major story lines). Lord lets you appreciate the big picture through those details. And he does frequently rise above the detail with overall analysis, observations and conclusions.(less)

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3.96  · 
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Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender…”
- Winston Churchill, speech before the House of Commons, June 4, 1940

May 1940. Nazi Germany is ascendant. I
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating look at the Dunkirk evacuation in May-June 1940 during World War II.

I was inspired to read a book on this topic after seeing Christopher Nolan's excellent film "Dunkirk." There are several nonfiction works available, and I chose Walter Lord's version because I had so enjoyed his book A Night to Remember, which was about the sinking of the Titanic.

For The Miracle of Dunkirk, Lord interviewed hundreds of survivors and people who were involved in the evacuation. He weaves th
Steven Z.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A few days ago I saw the film “Dunkirk” which attempted to convey the importance of the rescue of 338,000 men off the coast of France across the English Channel in late May and early June, 1940. The film does an excellent job presenting the plight of British and French troops as they lined up on the beaches to be extracted from the threat of German tanks, artillery, soldiers and bombers. What the historian, Walter Lord refers to in his classic study, THE MIRACLE OF DUNKIRK is a series of crises ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwi-wwii
This book, published in 1982, has a very personal touch as a history of the Great Rescue. Many of the survivors were still living when Lord wrote the book and his interviews with hundreds of them provide the reader with the "real" story based on their memories, even though some may have been a bit faulty.

One of the greatest feats in military history, the rescue of the BEF and French armies with their backs against the sea, had everything against it and failure probably would have meant the invas
Dana Stabenow
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walter Lord wrote the definitive Titanic book, A Night to Remember, and wrote another heart-in-your-mouth thriller here. It's not like I don't know how either of those stories ended but Lord has a real gift for seeking out people you'd like to have a beer with in ordinary circumstances who are then thrown into extraordinary circumstances and brings you along for the ride. I'm still spitting the sand of the beach out of my mouth.

You all know the story; the Allied Forces were forced to the coast b
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, dark

Captivating war story, portrayed some true events, and how much war hurts us, destroyed us, and yet, people still do this all the time. For the sake of what? Greed. Only greed.
May 03, 2010 rated it liked it
The reader should be familiar with the events prior to reading the book. Otherwise the book will appear to be a random collection of personal accounts.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having seen (and enjoyed) the film DUNKIRK, I wanted to read a book on the subject that would give a fuller picture of the events concerning the evacuation of the British Army from Dunkirk, France in 1940. This book by Walter Lord does give an overview of what happened and at the same time draws on interviews with hundreds of participants (listed in the back). Though published in 1982, the book does not feel like it needs any updating. Very readable, this is superb historical narration and may b ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My reading this book right before the release of Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk film is not sheer coincidence. I actually went to the google machine, typed in "best books about Dunkirk" and this was one of the most highly rated. Lucky for me, my library had an e-copy of the book allowing me to read it when my work day was dwindling away...

The Miracle at Dunkirk is a book about the mass evacuations of Dunkirk, France. During the formative years of World War II, the Allies occupying France
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: history fans, fans of WWII.
Recommended to Michael by: Goodreads friend
The book recreates the greatest rescue of all time. In May of 1940, 400,000 allied troops were pinned against the French port of Dunkirk with Hitler's forces closing in. It seemed impossible to escape but most of the troops did.

The story leads up to the rescue with hundreds of interviews of the participants. Walter Lord lets the reader experience what is happening as if we were reading the conflict and episodes from the daily paper or in letters home. If it was happening today, the information w
DNF @ 20%

What I knew about Dunkirk going into this book:
-it is a place in France (probably)
-something happened there in WWII

What I knew about Dunkirk after 20%
-definitely a place in France
-something happened there in WWII
-this is not a good book to start with if you know nothing about Dunkirk

I'd like to give this another try after I know some basics of the Dunkirk scenario.
Peter Tillman
The review that led me to read this book was Dana Stabenow's, and you should read hers first: Now, that's a proper review!

Back already? OK, I didn't like it as much as she did, mainly because Walter Lord felt compelled to put every bit of his research into the book. And just about everyone who was involved in the war, and the evacuation are dead and gone. So the principal audiences for the book, I think, are WW2 buffs and descendants of the people involved
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Walter Lord has a history of documenting the past and "Dunkirk" is no exception. Meticulously researched and written, Lord puts you right in the bunkers with the senior officers and has you dig in on the beaches with the grunts. Five to seven days to pull off the amazing, almost impossible logistical feat of getting close to 400,000 combatants off a section of beach, across the English Channel to England and safety from the Luftwaffe, panzers and troops of the Germans hell bent on annihilation o ...more
Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
Unabridged Audiobook

The full inside story of one of the golden moments of World War II.

Description: On May 24, 1940, Hitler's armies were on the brink of a shattering military victory. Only 10 miles away, 400,000 Allied troops were pinned against the coast of Dunkirk. But just 11 days later, 338,000 men had been successfully evacuated to England. How did it happen? Walter Lord's remarkable account of how "the miracle of Dunkirk" came about is ba
Donald Kirch
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! History is a passion of mine, and to read this story about the British retreat from Dunkirk, it felt like I was right there with them. Vivid and entertaining! The author of this book is most famous for writing the classic Titanic tale "A Night to Remember," so it was fitting to learn from him that Charles Lightoller was a civilian sailor who also helped the British Navy with the use of his private ship during his nation's rescue of her soldiers. Who was Charles Lightoller? Why ...more
C.P. Cabaniss
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic-wwii, audio
This was an informative book about the events that drove allied British and French troops to the beaches of Dunkirk and the efforts made to rescue them. Lord seemed very honest in his telling of this point in history, quoting interviews from men who had been there to convey the reality of the situation.

I found this quite fascinating and learned a lot from it. I listened to the audiobook, but I would like to try the physical version in the future, as I think I would be able to learn more from re
Colby Treadwell
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a very good book, you have to be able to really pay attention while reading this book because there is a lot of very confusing scenes and a lot of vocabulary that you need to know to understand the book. This book is full of parts about how war is not a fair thing and how it is very scary at times. This book is a longer read for some but was a good one for me.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-war
This is a good book written by a good historian. The book is not new, I believe it was originally released in the 80's, but it has become more popular due to the film version of Dunkirk. The movie did not necessarily use this book as the raw material for the screenplay. Read this book either before or after seeing the movie and you will see how different the reality of this retreat was from what was portrayed on screen.
Amy Boehl
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a tough one. I would give this book 3.5 stars, but that's not an option. I listened to it as an audiobook and I think that might be part of the reason I didn't love it as much as I hoped. The way it was written was quite informative and in layman's terms, but the author jumped back and forth between dates so it was hard to follow. Had I been reading it versus listening to it then it might have been easier to follow. I'm not quite sure on that one.

This book was informative and I learned
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Walter Lord does another great job of weaving personal accounts with the larger picture of a historical event. This time the event is the miracle of Dunkirk during WWII when the British were successful in evacuating the majority of the BEF from France and a large number of French soldiers.
Christina DeVane
This was SUPER interesting!!! Hard to follow at times as there are so many moving parts to the story. But a truly amazing story. I know nothing of the perils of war.
Samuel Rengert
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are many exciting and heartbreaking events that happen in the book The Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord. This book's genre is a military nonfiction as well as historical nonfiction. The Miracle of Dunkirk takes place in Dunkirk, France in 1940. The setting goes from the beaches of France back and back Great Britain. The Miracle of Dunkirk follows the British Expeditionary Force and all the events they went through as they were pushed out of France. I enjoyed reading this book. It was very ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being an American and a casual history reader, I don’t recall ever learning about Dunkirk in school and I know nothing about the British military. I think a background in both, besides just watching Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, would have helped me as I read this. This book is certainly filled with details, and at times I found myself having to reread some paragraphs because there was so much to take in. There were also a lot of names to keep track of, and plenty of military terms I had to look ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was inspired to read this book after watching Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. As with most adaptations, the movie paled in comparison to what truly happened during Operation Dynamo, which was succinctly captured in this book.

In just under 300 pages, the book captured the many heroic deeds (as well as a few acts of cowardice) that made the evacuation truly miraculous. Expecting to evacuate only 25,000 troops, the Royal Navy and the countless ordinary British citizens evacuated over 300,000 troops
Ralph Wark
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly excellent

History as told in class is distant and cold. We can read about the evacuations of 300,000 soldiers form Dunkirk, but it sounds like a few pleasure craft schlepped a roos the channel, pickup up the boys, and headed back in time for tea.

Um, no, a bit more complicated. It took the loss of a couple hundred ships, including an entire class of destroyers, under constant Luftwaffe raids and artillery shelling, to pull it off. There was tension between the British and French, fig
Edward Westerbeke
I recently saw the movie Dunkirk. I realized that I did not know much about the evacuation and therefore read this book by Walter Lord. The evacuation was a huge undertaking in which there was many casualties and loss of lives. But it could have been worse. I gave it a 3 because of the large amount of acknowledgements which did not add to the story for me.
G.M. Burrow
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
I've been spoiled by Nathaniel Philbrick (In the Heart of the Sea) lately. Walter Lord isn't as compelling or memorable in Philbrick's novelistic way, but he sure knows his Dunkirk. There are enough stories here to inspire an entire miniseries. (What say you, Christopher Nolan?) Good to finally read up on the greatest eucatastrophe of World War II.
Matthew Gleason
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walter Lord always delivers historical facts in prose that read like a novel, "Miracle at Dunkirk" is no different. This was a great primer for the film that is coming out today. I close up the gin pennant for our British cousins!
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Very, very detailed timeline of the evacuation of the British and French at dunkirk shortly after France surrendered in WWII. Congress the humane aspects will. Fascinating, sickening, triumphal,tragic. Interesting to see the mentality start to shift from the methods of war in WWI to WWII
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fast paced and enjoyable reading. The author seamlessly blends the overall picture of what is happening with individual stories that give the facts a heart.
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Walter Lord was an American author, best known for his documentary-style non-fiction account, A Night to Remember, about the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

In 2009, Jenny Lawrence edited and published The Way It Was: Walter Lord on His Life and Books.
“One man who could understand it very well was the architect of these stop-gap measures: General the Viscount Gort, Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force. A big burly man of 53, Lord Gort was no strategist—he was happy to follow the French lead on such matters—but he had certain soldierly virtues that came in handy at a time like this. He was a great fighter—had won the Victoria Cross storming the Hindenburg Line in 1918—and he was completely unflappable.” 0 likes
“Gentry crept out. There, stuck in the slime a few feet away, was a huge unexploded bomb. It was about the size of a household refrigerator, shaped like a cigar, with its tail fins sticking up. A large pig slowly waddled across the barnyard and began licking it. On” 0 likes
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