76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unmissable account of D-Day
Anthony Beevor is probably most famous for his other World War Two book, 'Stalingrad', and in 'D-Day' he certainly shows the same ability to conjure up the realities of a single theatre of battle. His style is almost novelistic, and from the start, this book is full of evocative, telling details, such as the pockets of the Airborne men stuffed with chocolate, and the...
Published on 28 May 2009 by emma who reads a lot
234 of 262 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a particularly good book on the subject
I would like to warn others against this book. The main ideas and arguments it puts forward have already been dealt with far more competently by other authors. It also claims to be based on extensive new research but it is not. If you have already read widely on the subject of the Normandy landings and the campaign that followed then it may just be worth reading this book...
Published on 1 Jun 2009 by Amazon Customer
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234 of 262 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a particularly good book on the subject,
I would like to warn others against this book. The main ideas and arguments it puts forward have already been dealt with far more competently by other authors. It also claims to be based on extensive new research but it is not. If you have already read widely on the subject of the Normandy landings and the campaign that followed then it may just be worth reading this book so that you can discuss its shortcomings honestly if required to do so.
If you are new or relatively new to this subject area then I would strongly recommend you read the following authors before you read Mr Beevors book as their work is far superior-
Max Hastings - Overlord
Carlo D'este - Decision in Normandy
Robert J Kershaw - D-Day
If you really want to go into the detail of German combat readiness and performance in this theatre- in a properly researched book - then I would also recommend-
Niklas Zetterling Normandy 1944.
57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't add much to the subject,
How many books have been written about D-Day? Dozens? Hundreds? The question we must therefore ask ourselves is does this book add anything to the already impressive list?
And I have to say it doesn't really. Most of what is here has been revealed before. Sure there are some new "voices" from the battlefield and elsewhere but we have seen innumerable such "memoirs" over the past few years (I notice another of the "Forgotten voices" series specifically for D Day has recently been published)
Where Beevor scored with Stalingrad and Berlin was that he had access to new material released in Russia which allowed a whole new dimension to be opened. Such material must be pretty thin on the ground regarding D Day so there is not much that is new here.
It is apparent that such a huge concern needs a multi-volume work or indeed perusal of the many books that come up if you type in "D day" in the search engine above. (7000+ books!) My personal favourites have always been the Purnell History of World War 2 series of books that came out originally in the 60's. They were and are (if you can find copies) fascinating reading for anyone interested in the military events of the time.
Having said all that, this is still well written and easy to read which would make it serve as a good introduction to the events of the 6th of June (This piece is being written on the 65th anniversary of the eve of the battle) but for more detail you'd be better turning to many of the other books on the subject
One final thought, I note that some of the other reviews of this book are aghast at how Amerocentric this book is. Equally I notice that Robin Niellands' book for example is seen as being too Anglo/Canadian centric. Why not read both and then make up your own mind? (And "Overlord" by Max Hastings, "Pegasus Bridge" and "Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose, or "Piercing the Atlantic wall" by Robert Kershaw or....how long do you want the list to be?)
In any case if you haven't already done so may I also heartily endorse the Imperial War Museum's D Day Experience, absolutely brilliant especially for younger people interested in the period - just read the reviews on Amazon if you don't believe me.
87 of 98 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far too simplistic,
I was suspicious of the true historical value of this book after watching Antony Beevor commenting on the BBC during D Day commemorations. However, I took the plunge and ought the book as a holiday read. There is nothing of substance in the book and the text is littered with comments which originate from the mouths of 'Officers Mess Bores' and armchair experts and as such have little worth. The author tells us no more about D Day and the subsequent battle for Normandy than we already know. Beevor focuses on the failings on Monty which is not new. However, his constant referral to these failings when referring to the British influence on the battle became rather annoying. If you want a true history of the events, look elsewhere.
215 of 248 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beevor's D Day, a job half done,
We all agree that Antony Beevor is a fine popular historian; you feel you are leaning over the Colonel's shoulder, maps spread out amid the confusion of battle. But D Day is more than a battle in France, it was an immense task conceived, organised and implemented then very hard fighting won. If you are interested in the Normandy campaign he is up to the task, but so too are a plethora of authors. What can Beevor add, could he link the pre 6th June preparation in equal measure to the fighting and present a complete D Day in one book? I wish he had given it a go.
Previous - serious - reviews suggest he has written a good but not an outstanding book. Given the confusion and complexity no one will ever write a definitive account. Of course narrative and academic historians will slog it out but for me it was a good "macro" account that added to the other books I have read. It is still the case D Day tends to be marginalised, gathering overwhelming forces in Southern England, a cross channel dash, some fighting against second tier troops, the allied generals -with "real time" Enigma intelligence - breaking out and processing to Germany. Allied air domination made it a turkey shoot. It was not like that and Bevoor details just how bloody the post invasion campaign was. Could the landing have been repelled on the beaches, or the breakout prevented? Disaster was real possibility, massive force never guaranteed success (ask the Romans). Beevor gave no sense of just how great the risks were.
D Day is a generic term for a staggeringly complex event. The harder you work, the luckier you get might be the real lesson. It demands an outstanding writer to present it to the general reader. To put the first soldier on French soil required a level of intelligence, audacity and imagination arguably without equal in war. How was the political will formed and the planning put in place? They did it with little more than pencils and card index boxes. Who were the people that organised the invasion, not bickering Generals but those in Nissen huts in Dorset? Many would have seen war in the Western Front in 1914-18 well aware of the disastrous events at Gallipoli and Dieppe. The 6th June is incomprehensible to those that did not see it - some 175,000 men, 1,500 tanks, 3,000 artillery pieces and 10,000 vehicles crossed the channel. This required nearly 7,000 vessels and 11,590 aircraft. Then the technological aspects, the Mulberry harbours, the fuel line PLUT0 and the beach storming equipment. How did they create a command structure for American, British, Canadian -Free French and Poles - operating in combined operations in sea, air, beach and paratroop landings? And the deception that convinced the Germans that Normandy was a feint for the Pas de Calais. Behind every front line soldier were at least a dozen in uniform and even more civilians. Who has told their story?
Had Beevor called his book the Battle for Normandy he would deserve full credit. But the prefix D Day - which we know sells books - begs a fuller account and here he has missed the target. What is on the "label" is not what is in the "can". Max Hastings the consensus suggests - has told it better while there are many competent, well-illustrated books written over the same ground. D Day - the whole story - is incredibly inspiring. The men that made D Day have a lot to teach us, understanding what they did is how we honour them. The objective was glorious, a colossal sacrifice to rid us of fascism. It seems Bevoor is stuck in a rut, although one he does well. This book is a disappointment, is it cashing in on his reputation and the 65th anniversary?
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ANTONY BEEVOR D DAY - POOR,
This review is from: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Paperback)
I found this book very poor. I really enjoyed Stalingrad which I thought provided a real insight into the Russian mindset during the war, and the dilemmas faced by some Germans too, but D-Day wasn't in that league. For a start little seemed new though Beevor is good with small details, he missed completely the great sweep of the battle and Montgomery's great strategy grinding down and destroying the German Army on the British and Canadian fronts while building up and breaking out on the American side.All the time completely hoodwinking the Germans as to the real intention of the Allies until the last moment.
Indeed the book seemed so anti-British I wonder if it was not deliberately written that way for the American market. There are a completely unjustified number of criticisms of the British commanders especially Monty, in respect of whom Beevor cannot bring himself to utter a single word of praise. Montgomery in fact is NEVER mentioned unless in critical terms. Montgomery did fail to deliver on some pre battle intentions but the great strategy for Normandy - including the American breakout, was his, set out at St Pauls School before the campaign and delivered in crushing style putting the allies on the Seine at D plus 90 just as Montgomery had predicted. This is the indisputable truth and Beevors work gives no sense whatever of this. Bradley of course did the detailed planning for Cobra, but the Strategic concept and direction was Montgomery's.Even Bradley who later fell out with Monty over the Ardennes gave Monty full credit for his performance in Normandy.
This aspect is so bad - even personal that I began to believe one of Beevor's relatives must have been slighted by Montgomery in some way, perhaps sacked or treated badly, to elicit such hostility. I thought there must be some sort of deeper explanation.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointed,
This review is from: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Paperback)
After his previous books such as Stalingrad and Berlin, I was disappointed in this one. Other reviewers have covered much of what I would say - particularly how kind in general it is to both the US and France. It doesn't seem to add anything much to what is already known. I'd add that alarm bells rang when I read the chapter on Omaha. As this was written very recently, I expected it to contain highly relevant information found about 6 or 7 years ago regarding the deployment of the DD tanks at Omaha - and why they nearly all sank (the Anglo-phobic US Commander at Omaha ignored the RN instructions to send them in at an angle to the beach, the direction of the waves, and sent them head on - which is why they, and other vessels were swamped - a fact discovered by marine archaeologists diving on the tanks.)
There is also a tendency (though this is by no means unique to this author), to make judgements purely with the benefit of hindsight. For instance, he will heavily criticise the British for not advancing on an area vacated by German troops (usually during the night), when there is no way they could have known about this. Or there will be harsh critisism of an advance into a heavily defended area - which the day before hadn't been, but again, enemy troops had moved in during the night. The author seems to fail to appreciate that intelligence and communications of the day were not even close to the standards of today, but still judges the actions of military commanders as if they were, which is more than a little unfair. I also caught a couple of occasions when he contradicted himself - saying one thing, then later in the book showing this to be wrong (or misleading through over-generalisation).
The other, more minor (in the overall context of the book) criticism relates to his comments and treatment of France. It is apparent that the author knows little about Occupied and Vichy France between 1940-44 (and there is nothing in the bibliography to suggest otherwise), and has largely accepted the post-war mythology created by the French, which has now been thoroughly discredited.
Worth reading as an introduction, as it is very readable (although I found it a bit confusing determining who was doing what - country-wise), but like others, I would strongly advise looking at some of the other books mentioned by other reviewers. Not recommended if you're already familiar with the subject, as you'll spend too much energy fault-finding!
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many historical inaccuracies for my liking,
From what I have read so far in Beevor's book, it is littered with too many historical inaccuracies for my liking and feels like a throw back to the revisionist works of the 1980s; it seems to ignore all of the brilliant works released over the last 10 or so years that have worked towards destroying the myth that Montgomery was over cautious, Miles Dempsey was simply a mouthpiece for Monty etc etc.
In several sections Beevor seems to miss the point on why operations were carried out in such a manner or why they were closed down; for example criticising the choice not to continue the Epsom offensive but then neglects to mention the numerous counterattacks against the British infantry over the coming days that were decisively defeated - the reason why the operation was halted, to go onto the defensive in light of the German intentions and to retain the initiative. In addition his description of other battles is also very suspect.
There are much better works out there covering the entire campaign that other reviews have already listed and in addition there are numerous works that give much better accounts of the individual battles and operations. For the above example I would state that Lloyd Clark's Operation Epsom and Michael Reynold's Sons of the Reich give much better accounts of Epsom.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not his finest hour,
The least insightful of Beevor's histories. Neither sufficient depth in the personal histories and recollections of those who participated, nor of the strategy and planning behind D-Day and then the breakout, nor a regimental history, nor a history of military technology. It tries to do all these things and therefore fails to do anything well. Too many numbers denoting formation this and formation that; I got lost as to who was doing what, where and why. Maps looked like GCSE history ones with a few arrows pointing in vague directions.
76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unmissable account of D-Day,
Anthony Beevor is probably most famous for his other World War Two book, 'Stalingrad', and in 'D-Day' he certainly shows the same ability to conjure up the realities of a single theatre of battle. His style is almost novelistic, and from the start, this book is full of evocative, telling details, such as the pockets of the Airborne men stuffed with chocolate, and the gambling they did to while away the hours before they took off. And in true English style, it begins with a chapter on the weather forecast.
It's quite a contrast to Max Hastings' book 'Overlord', up till now considered the central account of the Normandy landings. Where Hastings puts the military action into the context of the Russian front and the war as a whole, Beevor is very much focused on people. Hastings is fantastic on tactics and weaponry, and has earned deep respect for his assessments of the allied effort overall. But reading Beevor is far more like watching a film.
Beevor's 'D-Day' reminds me more of John Keegan's moving 'Six Armies in Normandy". Beevor has incorporated details of the day-to-day experience, such as their cooking, or taking wine from the cellars of an abandoned chateau, as well as the fighting.
To sum up the difference, with Hastings, you have the grim details, the grind of it, the effort, the planning, the grit. Yet with Beevor the reader understands what it had been like to be there: the companionship, the nerves, the odd little forays into the woods, even the traffic jams. But when I want to know WHY it happened like it happened and why it took so very long to break the German forces, I will be returning to Hastings.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the D-Day invasion to the liberation of Paris, a vivid retelling,
For a layman like myself who hasn't done a great deal of reading on this subject, Anthony Beevor's D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, is a fine book that gave me a greater insight in to that summer of 1944 and a richer appreciation of what happened after the beachheads had been secured. Other reviewers who have clearly done a good deal more reading were not particularly impressed with this book.
Initially, this book covers the Normandy beach invasions, as you would expect. Beevor then takes us through the battle-scarred landscape of north western France, right in to the center of Paris. As was the case with two of his most well-known previous books, Stalingrad and Berlin, it is in the smaller details that Beevor really tells his story - his effective use of personal anecdotes and diaries that really breathe life in to his narrative, are what sets him apart from countless other historians of the same era.
Despite Beevor's considerable writing skills and his mastery of marshalling such a vast amount of information in to a coherent narrative, D-Day never quite scaled the heights (or plumbed the depths, depending on your perspective) as his two above-mentioned books. This could well be because this facet of the Second World War is so ingrained in to our British consciousness that we feel like we already know the history, even if we actually don't. However, this book is still highly recommended because Beevor brings his story to life with the personal details: the petty bickering of the generals - Patton's rampant egoism and comical machismo, Montgomery's papal infallibility, Hitler's paranoia and the frustrations of his generals (the British command had decided against assassinating Hitler as they thought his increasing detachment from reality was causing him to make awful strategic decisions that aided the Allies, whereas saner German military leadership might end up lengthening the war) and of course, many personal accounts from frontline soldiers and the civilians caught in the middle, watching their historic towns get destroyed.
My main criticism of this book is that it begins with the Allies deciding when to invade France, depending on the weather conditions. Therefore, the preliminary planning decisions had all been made. As with any history book, the author must decide on a specific start and ending date of the story - just how far back do you need to go? I would disagree with Beevor in choosing to begin his book so close to the actual invasion itself. I would have appreciated some space devoted to why the decision was taken to mounting a primarily seaborne invasion, why that particular location was chosen (why France and why that area of France), why were certain beaches allocated to certain nationalities, what were the logistical issues behind such an unprecedented invasion, when these decisions were made and who by?
Anthony Beevor once again tells the story of another crucial battle of the Second World War in such a masterful way. Whether this becomes the definitive text on the subject is another debate but certainly D-Day: The Battle for Normandy was another rich, impressive book, only just missing the mark that two of his previous books had set impossibly high.
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D-Day: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor (Paperback - 24 May 2012)
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