Patrick's Reviews > June 6, 1944: The Voices of D-Day

June 6, 1944 by Gerald Astor
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's review
Jan 24, 2012

really liked it
Read from January 24 to 26, 2012

This oral history collection is an exacting account of the combined Allied attack at Normandy. The text pieces together the personal stories of the men in combat. The American involvement is the focus of the piece, but the English and Canadian perspectives and accounts of battle are included. The material delves into how each soldier arrived at that time and place in history. At times, it is difficult to recall which soldier is which; the perspective changes quickly from one soldier to another. The quick transitions bog down the story in some areas, moving from one country to another and one soldier to another without gaps on the page is occasionally confusing.

The novel is full of fantastic information about the invasion plans. The wealth of information will appeal to history buffs. The book brings the scope and intricacies of the operation to the reader. The sheer size of the operation is a difficult, if not impossible, point to make well, but the volume of the soldiers recounting their piece of the action gives you a feel for the massive size of Operation Overlord. The novel does not shy away from the failures of the Army on D-Day. Turning tanks into flotillas by using canvas buoys gives a sense of a military desperate for solutions with little idea of how to make it happen.

There are some tidbits of great information. A GI reports seeing Hemingway on the scene on D-Day (p.266). The name of the first KIA in the European Theatre is pinpointed. On D-Day, even Generals jumped into combat with the Paratroopers. The glider from "Saving Private Ryan," the one with the steel plates welded to the floor, was a real thing. The pilot was the lead plane for the glider detachment and survived to tell the story. The survival numbers hit home hard. The percentage of soldiers that were able to survive the 11 months of combat are shocking; it is an appallingly low number.

p.189 "Instead of conducting precise, well planned maneuvers, the troopers initially performed like gangs of desperadoes, marauding through the countryside."
p.401 "Ordinary boys do extraordinary things in the most ordinary manner. The wounded don't cry. They seem a little dazed. Many have a surprised, hurt look in their eyes, but they don't cry."

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