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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...
Published 21 months ago by Tristan Martin

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63 of 70 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...
Published on 5 Jun. 2009 by Big Jim


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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't add much to the subject, 5 Jun. 2009
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Hardcover)
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.
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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, 15 May 2013
By 
Tristan Martin (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Hardcover)
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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239 of 268 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a particularly good book on the subject, 1 Jun. 2009
By 
Amazon Customer (North West of England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Hardcover)
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.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ANTONY BEEVOR D DAY - POOR, 19 July 2010
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.
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90 of 102 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far too simplistic, 13 July 2009
This review is from: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Hardcover)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thin, confusing, doesn't hit the sweet spot, 12 Jun. 2014
Antony Beevor's books are usually so good but D-Day just doesn't seem to work. Perhaps the sheer scale of the D-Day Landings was too much for him to handle but he doesn't provide enough to bring it all alive. Anyone expecting a literary experience to rival the realism of the opening minutes of the film "Saving Private Ryan" will be disappointed. While the opening chapters are vey interesting and well-constructed, the battlefield chapters are just weak, thin vignettes with places, people and outcomes not explained. The shortage of maps doesn't help and the lack of a full index also lets the book down. (Try finding individual soldiers or officers in the index, for example). The make-up of individual elements....platoons, divisions, regiments, brigades, corps, etc..is not explained and pre-existing knowledge is assumed.
A recurrent theme with Beevor is a one-line description of who didn't like whom. It doesn't bring the characters alive at all, as I suspect is intended, but rather creates an impression that Beevor simply wants to downplay the achievements and courage of pretty much everyone. You quickly find yourself disliking certain Allied and German figures until you realise that you really only have the author's perspective and that the reality may have been very different.

Beevor can do better and should have done better. It's usually a good sign when a book leaves you searching for more information, but in this case you walk away feeling that you are looking simply because Beevor's account falls short.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beevor's extensive and truthful research about days that changed the history, 1 Dec. 2013
By 
Denis Vukosav - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
After D-Day as theme has already been written about a lot and countless movies were made, it's hard to imagine that there is much left to write about the invasion of occupied France in June 1944. But as Antony Beevor demonstrated, knowledge of this military campaign benefits considerably from new documents and exhaustive research. He had done just that, made new extensive research, used letters and diaries from archives around the world, especially German ones to produce a vivid narrative.

Beevor's book is not just a book about D-Day but it also includes the breakout from Normandy, the Von Stauffenberg bomb plot against Hitler all through to the liberation of Paris. He argues that the D-Day invasion must be seen as part of a much larger campaign from the invasion itself is only the first part.

Beevor is one of the finest military historians writing about World War II. His books are characterized by exhaustive research, careful analysis of the strategic and tactical decisions on all sides, an emphasis on the fighting as experienced by front-line soldiers, and an unrivaled ability to convey in clear language the horror of warfare. Narrative is Beevor's strongest point. Using personal stories from thousands of ordinary soldiers but several generals as well he expertly blends the strategic views with side-stories and anecdotes.

Author specially highlighted the high death toll of French civilians and the strength of German resistance, completely debunking misapprehension that D-Day was completely successful operation.

He clearly admires some of the military leaders on both sides, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Erwin Rommel. On the American side, Omar Bradley is portrayed as solid and careful while George Patton, the allied general the Germans most feared, is vain, aggressive and extraordinarily effective. He is not afraid to tell who fell short: British Gen. Bernard Montgomery comes across as pompous, self-serving, and ineffective.

But the real greatness of the book lies not only in so many details but in other important part. Without diminishing the heroism of the Red Army, Beevor is clearly sees the nature of the Soviet Union. For years after the war, Soviet claimed at the Normandy campaign as a sideshow campaign insisting that on the Eastern Front real fighting took place and there Hitler was truly defeated.

But, as the author shows, the battle of Normandy was more than comparable in its intensity to the fighting on the Eastern Front, e.g. the Wehrmacht suffered nearly a quarter of a million casualties, lost another 200,000 men to Allied captivity, rate of 2,300 men per division per month which was higher than in the East. In same time, Allies sustained more than 200,000 casualties. The fighting was brutal and on both sides the killing of prisoners was much greater than generally admitted.

Beevor's book is highly recommended and what is most important that all the time reader feels and knows that everything written is backed-up with extensive and truthful research.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, 15 April 2012
By 
Matthew Hosier (Poole, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Hardcover)
Beevor, our premier recorder of the history of war, achieves an equivalent success to his earlier accounts of the battles for Stalingrad and Berlin in this epic account of the fight for France.

Somehow Beevor manages to cram every page with detail but keep the narrative storming on. It is difficult to keep all the geography and characters and timing together in ones mind, but this doesn't seem to matter - the writing is so compelling. Ten years since reading Stalingrad the thing that sticks in my memory is the sheer bloody horror of the Soviet and German armies grinding themselves into the dirt in the rubble of that ruined city. From Berlin: The Downfall 1945 it is the horrific use of rape as a weapon of war by the Soviet army advancing into Germany. And from D-Day I think it will be the shocking destruction of Normandy by the Allies as they forced their way through dogged German resistance. The Allies killed 70,000 French civilians during the course of the war, more than the total number of British who died as a result of German bombing.

The human cost of this war was unimaginable, and Normandy became the sacrificial lamb that the rest of France might be spared. Accounts of soldiers falling to pieces mentally under the terror of artillery bombardment is sobering, as is the brutality on both sides, with prisoners of war being killed in cold blood. There were also moments of incredible chivalry though, when enemies treated each other with unusual respect.

War brings out both the best and the worst in men. No other area of human experience allows men to act with such selfless courage and boldness, and with such hideous brutality. Both the best and worst were on full display in Normandy. Beevor brilliantly captures the terrifying chaos of the first airborne landings behind enemy lines and the bloodbath of the assault on Omaha beech. This is Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers in full detail.

And of course, running through one's head is the question, "Would I have fought bravely, or been one of those cowering in terror in a foxhole crying for my mother?"

The logistics behind the landings and subsequent advance beggar belief. A quartermaster in the 3rd Armoured Division calculated that it took 125,000 gallons of fuel for the whole division to move just 100 yards. In this the incredible resources of America are evident. The British had bankrupted themselves fighting the war, but the US was able to keep pouring in more and more resources, and it was this apparently limitless supply that really did for the German forces, whose own supplies became increasingly sparse. The Allies achieved almost complete air supremacy and were able to bomb German supply chains into oblivion. America became ever stronger, Britain weaker, and thus was set the path of Western realpolitik up to the present day.

One other aspect of the conflict that stands out is the incredible ego of the commanders involved. Fighting a war is hardly the domain for shrinking violets, but it is striking how the Allied Generals competed amongst themselves. As Field Marshall Sir Alan Brooke put it, "It is astonishing how petty and small men can be in connection with questions of command." As General Patton recorded when he was waiting to be sent to France, "It is Hell to be on the side lines and all the glory eluding me." De Gaulle was insufferably arrogant (in a uniquely French way). Montgomery was too - to such an extent that Eisenhower described him as `a psychopath', unable to ever admit a mistake. Patton, the most driven and most successful of the Generals wrote at the end of the campaign, "I am convinced that the best end for an officer is the last bullet of the war." After commanding the fates of thousands of men, indeed of whole nations, what could compare? Where would the glory be? And of course, at the centre of it all was Hitler, whose lust for glory was unsurpassed.

Therein lies the lesson - and the warning - of the battle for Normandy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrifying and Iconoclastic, 3 May 2011
By 
Steve Keen "therealus" (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
There's nothing like a little iconoclasm to liven up history, and from that point of view this is a particularly lively book, unafraid to tread on toes, rubbish preconceptions and question reputations. At times it appears that the only reason the Allies succeeded in Normandy in the summer of 1944 was less to do with the brilliance of Overlord and its aftermath than the incompetence and insanity of the German war machine. Both sides were divided internally, though the back-stabbing on the Allied side was purely metaphorical, and both suffered from tactical ineptitude, enervating hesitancy and debilitating equipment failure.

Overwhelming resources made the Allied victory almost inevitable, but all too often these were inefficiently deployed, and at others counterproductively, as when the use of grey flares to denote two conflicting messages saw Allied planes carpet bomb their own side. Air superiority and its consequences were summed up nicely by members of the Wehrmacht: when British planes appeared the Germans took cover; when the Americans appeared everybody took cover, and when the Luftwaffe appeared nobody took cover. (Given recent experiences in Afghanistan, I reflected that certain things are unchanged in that respect.)

Beevor reserves for particular criticism Montgomery, a personage lionised by many (in the sixties I never heard a word said against him) but whose stock has more recently declined in value due to his jealous protection of his fief, his opportunism and his lack of clear and bold strategic thought, but he is not the only one who gets a roasting, and there are a few who find themselves accused of downright stupidity, laziness, and abject cowardice. One set of people singled out are the legendary Desert Rats, unable to transfer their success in the desert to the bocages of Normandy.

Particularly gruesome are the descriptions of the fate of many Germans during the period, not least in the killing grounds around Falaise in August 1944. Inept as the Allies were in maximising their advantage in this particular episode - their failure to close the gaps in the pocket enabled many Germans to slip through the lines and escape - they were still able to effect a large-scale massacre and impose horrendous suffering on most of the survivors. Beevor makes particular note of the large number of horses deployed by the Germans in this area, and the consequences for everyone close of their death and putrefaction. Disturbingly, the overall military capability of the German forces is portrayed as superior to that of the Allies, no doubt partly because most German soldiers were already battle hardened, many in the campaigns on the Eastern Front, but there is also the Ingredient X of a belief system fanatically defended, which means the hardcore Nazis of the SS are far more willing to fight to the death than Allied troops. Ultimately, though, many of them actually did, with the result that the German forces became increasingly diluted by rear echelon cadres and untried youths.

Caught in the middle, the French population and their towns, villages, farms and livelihoods. Their treatment at the hands of the Allies is mind-boggling as their land is torn to shreds, their livestock decimated and their homes pulverised, the streets and roads of Normandy littered with craters and the burned out shells of military vehicles. This behaviour often verges on, and sometimes strays into, criminal negligence, with Caen and any number of other picturesque and historic towns and cities being annihilated in order to save them. It is to their credit that subsequently the only signs of umbrage on the part of the French seem to have been in the trashing of the occasional McDonald's.

Throughout, a combination of thorough research and Beevor's ability to tell a gripping story mean that reading becomes compulsive, carried along by the momentum and horror of the events themselves as he depicts them. This applies especially to his even-handedness in describing the experience from the German as well as the Allied point of view. This is a must read.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointed, 12 Oct. 2010
By 
L. Odell "little me" (Leeds) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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!
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D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor (Hardcover - 28 May 2009)
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