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101 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a rare find, it gives you both sides of the battle
After reading 3 previous books about the D-day invasion, I can finally say that I won't be buying any more after reading this one. Other historians write as well as Max Hastings, but none have included both the perspective from the Allies as well as the Germans. When you put this book down, you'll have the experience of truly understanding what it was like to be in...
Published on 28 Nov 2001

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57 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather subjective and certainly over-rated!
Hasting's 'Overlord' has earned a reputation of being almost as close as one can get to becoming a definitive history of the 1944 landings in Normandy.

Whilst far superior to the work of 'historians' such as Stephen Ambrose, there is still an overwhelming feeling of this book being authored by a journalist and not an historian. Hastings makes many sweeping...
Published on 23 April 2008 by Normandy Battlefield Guide


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best, 15 Aug 2009
By 
Henk Beentje "Henk Beentje" (Kew, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I have just re-read this for about the fourth time, and I still think it is the best overview: balanced, well-written, with a nice mixture of grand strategy, tactics, personalities, and personal narratives - from both Allied and German sides (and French civilians, too); plus a healthy dose of personal opinion, but not in an obtrusive way. And still it works, which is quite something!
The book is based on a lot of sources, including many interviews with survivors by Hastings himself.
The landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944; the frustration of the bocage, Montgomery's grandstanding as well as his qualities, comparisons between the various armies; it's all there, but it never seems to stop the sweep of the story, it all is beautifully meshed into a coherent whole.
I will buy any history book by Hastings, without reading reviews or opinions by others; and I still think this is one of his best.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not perfect in paperback., 25 Jun 2009
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I bought this ahead of the Anthony Bevoir's recent tome and it is a very good book; well written from both the perspective of the soldier on the ground as well as an overview of the action.

But I have two minor niggles.

First, and this has been mentioned in an earlier review, the maps are dfficult to make out. The printing in paperback format isn't really up to the job. This is highly frustrating as you try - and often fail - to see on the maps what the text is refering to.

Second, Max Hastings has the habit of using abbreviations some pages before he explains what they stand for! It's definitely worth bookmarking the glossary pages but even those aren't entirely comprehensive.

But those niggles aside, this is an impressive piece of work with many fascinating insights into one of the most important moments in our history,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Evaluation of the Battle for Normandy, 20 April 2012
By 
JH "hobbs_tx" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
Hastings book on the Battle for Normandy is not the most detailed book on the subject. However, as an avid reader of World War II, I would say this is one of the best evaluations of the battle for Normandy. The book covers the war from D-Day to closing of the Falaise Pocket. Hastings seeks to explain not only what happened, but why it happened. Hastings starts off summarizing what lead up to the cross-Channel attack and discusses the status of the attacking and defending armies. Hasting does not spend a lot of time here. As he says others have already covered this area to significant detail. If you want to really know about what led up to the cross-Channel attack I would recommend CROSS CHANNEL ATTACK by Gordon Harrison. One area he does dwell on is the Air Forces. While he praises their accomplishments in support of the Allied invasion and ground campaign, he does not shy away pointing out their lack of team spirit and poor coordination with the Army especially in regard to close ground air support. Hastings has also written a book, Bomber Command (Pan Grand Strategy Series), which discusses the air war in World War II in more detail.

I found Hastings's writing style is easy to digest and well paced keeping my interest. The book uses endnotes to identify sources properly. He uses firsthand accounts to add color and references to his points. I did find that he would occasionally provide an account that was not representative of the overall events without presenting the context. I found that these cases would lead to incorrect impressions. Fortunately, this was limited. He provides great maps of the major operations which are immensely better than throwing out endless place names. There are a large number of good B/W photographs which add to excellent writing.

Something I did find refreshing was the more British centric presentation of the story. Most of the books I have read gloss over the activities of the non-American Allies. Hastings discusses the British and Canadian's amphibious landings and airborne assaults. He also discusses their failure to take Caen on D-Day and why. He follows their many attempts to maneuver and break out including the Battle for Villers-Bocage, Operation Epsom, Operation Charnwood, and Operation Goodwood. He addresses and criticizes Montgomery for deflecting the ineffectiveness of the British/Canadian operations as part of the plan. He discusses the difficulties and failure of tactics which contributed to the faltering of the attacks. On the whole I feel he defends Montgomery as much as he beats him up. Hastings also makes some statements that I don't agree with, but for the most part I found him fair and balanced.

Hastings does not neglect the Americans in his account either. He describes the American amphibious landings and airborne assaults. He follows the battle for Cherbourg and the breakout through Operation Cobra. However, I found Harrison's Cross-Channel Attack did the subject more justice for American actions up to the capture of Cherbourg. Hastings also does not neglect the German perspective of the conflict. He pulls from numerous German sources including personal interviews. Hastings is able to show their frustrations in attempting to defeat the Allies which truly reflect the difficulties in attacking. The reader also comes to understand the influence of Hitler's meddling in the campaign which sealed the fate of the German army.

Some of Hastings's best insights are when he talks about what the soldiers were facing during the battle. He discusses the unbalanced quality of the German weapons and vehicles compared to the allies. He addresses the difficulty of taking the offensive in the bocage country and even open areas where maneuvering was not possible. He discusses the lack of coordination of the armored and infantry forces. He discusses the limitations of ground air support and the effectiveness of slowing the mobility of the Germans. He addresses the difference in attitude and tactics of the German army as compared to the Allies. He addresses the difficulties of the command structure within the Allied army which started at the lowest levels. Hastings talks about battle fatigue and the affects to capabilities of the infantry left in battle. These chapters alone make the book worth reading.

All in all, I recommend this book highly to anyone interested in World War II or war in general. While I would suggest this not be your sole resource on the Normandy campaign, it should be part of it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best overview, 14 Aug 2009
By 
Henk Beentje "Henk Beentje" (Kew, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I have just re-read this for about the fourth time, and I still think it is the best overview: balanced, well-written, with a nice mixture of grand strategy, tactics, personalities, and personal narratives - from both Allied and German sides (and French civilians, too); plus a healthy dose of personal opinion, but not in an obtrusive way. And still it works, which is quite something!
The book is based on a lot of sources, including many interviews with survivors by Hastings himself.
The landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944; the frustration of the bocage, Montgomery's grandstanding as well as his qualities, comparisons between the various armies; it's all there, but it never seems to stop the sweep of the story, it all is beautifully meshed into a coherent whole.
I will buy any history book by Hastings, without reading reviews or opinions by others; and I still think this is one of his best.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars masterpiece, 16 Nov 2004
Excellent work. Max Hastings vast erudition, brilliant narrative style, uncompromising objectivity, and his attention to detail recommend themselves throughout this masterpiece. I can honestly say I have not read a better book on this particular subject. Mr. Hastings has unfortunately accrued much opprobrium in certain revisionist circles for his unstinting praise of the fighting qualities of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS. I feel that when a historian is asked to desist from calling a spade a spade in the interests of patriotism or something similar a huge disservice has been rendered to the historical community. To sum up - good job Max.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overtaken by better books, 3 Mar 2005
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This book might have been considered top class a dozen years ago but it has been superseded by many others since. Hastings is guilty of many assumptions about the fighting qualities of British and Canadian soldiers that have been demonstrated to be wrong by Terry Copp's magnificent work on the Canadians in Normandy - Fields of Fire. For a single volume history of the planning and execution of the invasion you could not do better than read Normandy 1944: The Road to Victory by Richard Doherty.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but flawed in analysis and missing content, 19 Mar 2006
By 
Nickel (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
I admire the Max Hastings. He isn't just an accomplished journalist and editor, but a serious historical writer too. His anecdotes and stories from soldiers who took part in the combat are intriguing and thought provoking. His observations concerning the qualitative fighting power of the various armies involved is undoubtedly true. But from a journalist of Hastings’ calibre, I would expect to have read more of the motivations behind the combatants, and better diagrams to explain the conflicts that made up the Overlord campaign.
In his later book, “Armageddon”, Hastings claims it is the natural successor to this book. Why then, does he leave such a huge gap between his two narratives concerning the progress of the allied armies across central and Eastern France? The Falaise Gap is covered here, and 'Market Garden' is the next book, but what happened in-between? And why does he almost ignore the role of the American invasion from the South of France or the Allied climb through Italy?
If Hastings ever revises “Overlord” – and the emergence of more evidence since its writing would suggest he should – then I would like him to include better analysis of personal and political motivations, and to include some of the less well documented but equally important military events of the time.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good overview from the revisionist perspective, 23 July 2010
Max Hastings has written a readable, engaging book that provides an excellent snapshot of Second World War historiography in the late 20th century. Having gone through the post-war period of the official histories and memoirs (Wilmot probably being the best known), in the 1980s a number of historians and writers, such as Hastings and D'Este, began to re-examine the campaign with a view to debunking the notion that the Germans were plodding, unimaginative soldiers and were beaten by Allied flair and initiative. This outdated idea was ripe for puncturing, but arguably the revisionists went too far in the other direction; reading "Overlord" one is left wondering how the Allies ever managed to get off the beaches. Hastings clearly subscribes to the equally fallacious idea that the average German soldier was matched only by the very best the Allies could offer, and the British, Canadians and Americans went into Normandy woefully unprepared for the task at hand. There is perhaps some truth in this argument when one considers Allied and German tanks, but it's noteworthy that both sides were fighting the bocage as much as each other and it was the Allies that ultimately adapted best both tactically and strategically (for example, the Germans generally suffered greater casualties than the Allies when on the offensive, and their pyrrhic doctrine of immediate counterattacks on lost positions bled them white). Hastings manages to give Montgomery a fair and reasonably sympathetic treatment, and provides some interesting vignettes from the men on the ground, but in attempting to cover the entire campaign in a few hundred pages he necessarily skirts over some important actions and events.

In short: an entertaining read and a perfectly competent overview of the campaign, but one that should be read in the light of historiographical attitudes of the time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Max Hastings - "Overlord: D-Day June 6, 1944", 2 Aug 2010
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Max Hastings is a first class historian, who manages the finesse of being even handed in his approach, detailed enough in his narrative without becoming bogged down with minutiae, and remaining able to inject his own enthusiasm for the subject, without it becoming gushing. In this excellent book, whose scope is immense, he wisely selects certain key areas, and handles them comprehensively, setting them into the overall context with skill. No single book could encompass the vast operation of D-Day without descending into a level of detail and complexity which would render most readers numb. Hastings keeps the whole issue very clear, and the result is a superb and stimulating narrative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very well researched book and written in a most pleasant, 10 July 2014
By 
W. L. Korthals Altes "wlkaltes" (Amsterdam , NL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy 1944 (Pan Military Classics) (Paperback)
Very well researched book and written in a most pleasant way
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