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4.7 out of 5 stars59
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 17 November 2004
This is a boys own story that I first heard about in comics and the film Longest Day. The book put flesh on the bones and told of the brave efforts who took part some of of whom had never fired a shot in anger. But as with all things in life I learnt so much more from the personal recollections of those brave men. The story was dulled some what with the realisation that some of those who survived the Longest Day were wasted after by the Commanders after the bridges had been taken in the ensuing battles that followed in the fields of France.
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on 3 June 2008
This book, if you're British, will make you feel so patriotic. I enjoyed this book so much that I was compelled to write a letter to Major John Howard and was so devastated to find out he had passed away a year before. I would recommend any History lover and to anyone lacking in patriotism. Classic book by a classic historian and without doubt, one of the best books I've read in a long time! Any non-brit would read this book and realise the daring missions the British Armed forces had to endure to help the D-Day landings!
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on 25 June 2003
Another well written and well researched book from Stephen Ambrose. This book although quite short gives a detailed account of the storming of Pegasus bridge in the early morning of D-Day 1945, along with the build up to the mission and the story afterwards of the central characters. I loved this book and was even inspired to visit the bridge (which has since been replaced).
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on 21 June 2007
Another book from the literary stable of American author Stephen Ambrose. I had noticed that the author always takes an obvious patriotic slant towards the American effort into the Second World War so why write about Pegasus Bridge? The book explains this as Ambrose, on a visit to the battle site of the said bridge, actually meets by chance and has a battlefield tour by the actual raid commander Major John Howard. So impressed was the author by Howard's depiction of this epic D-Day raid that he decided to write a book on the story.

What a story it is too? In this first D-Day engagement, the capture of this Normandy Bridge was reputed to be crucial to the success of the D-Day invasion. Its capture would deny a route for German reinforcements to support the defences on the stormed beaches. So the scene was set in that pre invasion dawn of the 6th June 1944 for a small airborne team of highly trained British troops to take off from the green fields of England on what was to become the most famous glider borne attack of the war.

Travelling over the English Channel in their fragile aircraft the troops are glided in with pin point precision to within yards of their objective....`Pegasus Bridge'. With complete surprise on their side Howard's men storm and take the bridge with minimal casualties and hunker down to repel the German counter attack until they are relieved by invasion troops.

Hopelessly outnumbered the airborne troops fight a cornered rat type of desperate defence....never giving in despite the odds. At one point when an armoured column of six tanks are sent against them a lone soldier with a Piat stops the first one literally in its tracks. This forces the other tanks to retreat fearing that the British are supported by an anti tank gun battery. This necessitates the comment that the Piat round shot by the soldier...Sgt Thorton...might be one of the most important rounds to be fired in the war...in effect his Piat round stopped the bridge being retaken and thereby giving the Panzers a free route to the beaches to repel the allied invasion.

Even the scene of the eventual relief on the bridge, when the commandos from the invasion spearhead join up with the airborne troops, becomes one of the most legendary British scenes of the war. The commandos let by Lord Lovatt, accompanied by his piper Bill Milne, march stiffly across the bridge to the sounds of the pipes whilst ignoring heavy enemy gunfire...the scene was made famous in the film `The Longest Day'.

As all of Stephen Ambrose's books the story is told with clarity, passion and admiration. The book cover the intense training leading up to the raid, dissects the personal nature, strengths and weaknesses of the men involved and covers the dramatic battle for the bridge as well as a concise narrative of the invasion itself. A great read about a real boys own story...a true military adventure that was distinctively British.
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on 2 December 2011
This is my first exposure to the author and I enjoyed his writing style which is quite conversational in parts. This is a short book, an easy read, never dry and you want to read on. It would be an ideal to read before going to the bridge because it brings alive the various characters of the battle and importantly it does this for both British and German soldiers and some French civillians.

You find yourself actually caring about some of the characters, for example the first man shot, who's picture is in the book and who's wife is in child and it is nice to see at the end of the book a resume of how people got on after the war.

He covers the recruitment and training of the unit, the landings (capture of the bridge) and associated fighting and then the subsequent days and months until the unit is returned to England.

The book is physically short and this at times is reinforced by a bit of fragmented commentary .... but I like this as there is a clear sense that this account has been based around the soldiers story, their first hand accounts, the bits you get are the bits that they could have related themselves, without the extra packing of a raft of other information that the author could have brought into the book from referenced sources, which is probably what makes this feel a different read and it is all the better and more useful for that.
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on 13 January 2014
Because of Band of Brothers a lot of attention has been going to 101st Airborne division and rightly so.

However, I'm really glad to write this small review about this book, because it deserves to be more on the forefront with all the other 'big guns' to honour this small detachment of the British Airborne troops as well.

As I'm used to with Stephen Ambrose, this historical documentary, reads like a novel and I have found it very difficult to put aside.
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on 27 August 2008
Wouw!! If this is the way Stephen E. Ambrose is writing all his books, this book will be first of many by him I will read!!!
I have played some boardgame with Pegasus Bridge in it and never really understood the importancy of capturing the bridge until I read this book. John Howard and his man did the free world a great service by capturing the bridge!
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on 29 July 2010
This was my second of Ambrose's works. I read Band of Brothers after enjoying the television series. I found Pegasus bridge to be as fascinating. Ambrose goes into detail where neccesary so the reader can understand the complexities of training, mission planning, and the fighting. The characters who were integraln to the events are given given due attention in the book and Ambrose makes no uneccesary attempts to over dramatise the events as happen in many books claiming to tell the history of war time events. The men involved were genuine and their acts were heroic so no alterations are required.
This book is a great balance between providing a history of the event, the characters and the significant influence while also providing an entertaining and gripping novel.
Highly reccomended, I will be makiung my way through the rest of his books.
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on 31 May 2010
Thank you finally to Steven Ambrose, who has decided to document a british campaign successfully. This story is fantastically written and documents the missions' selection, training and execution. In typical british fashion it was all touch and go, but it paid off and ultimately gave the troops landing on the beeches a secure way inland they wouldnt have to make themselves.

Ambrose follows the whole story well, he makes it very personal with testimonies of the men making up the majority of the narrative, but helpfully drops in historical facts and pointers to help guide the reader where necessary though not in excess.

A great book that should be read by all, a true example of british courage and devotion to getting the job done. Goes well with Ambroses account of Band of Brothers, think of this as a smaller british version.
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on 2 May 2016
Great story well told but let down by very poor editing - anyone who knows the general gist of the story will enjoy the book but that will be tainted by some annoying errors in spelling of place names Tarrant Rushton and Ranville in various places sometimes correct but mostly incorrect - started marking them in pencil but gave up in the end as there were so many silly errors - makes you wonder about accuracy of other things - John Howard was probably appalled I would think by the lack of precision. You can't take anything away from the generation who sacrificed themselves in actions like this but it is up to those who follow behind to do them the honour of reporting their exploits accurately - especially when they are making money out of it.
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