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on 13 February 2015
Firstly forgive my flippant title. Mr Beevor - I think has got himself into the Rock star historian league: with his books flying off the shelves; this one is good but not that good. Its beautifully written, like all his previous efforts, painting vivid pictures of the triumph and tragedy. As history: if brings new insight (to me anyway) on the 'Hitler Plot', with the plotters usually remembered as noble men trying to banish evil - Beevor has none of this, pointing out some of them had views not far from Hitler's. Why only 3? Well I think whilst Mr B brings new things on the Hitler Plotters, in other areas I found him rather lazy and pompous in his assessment. Lazy in repeating things like the Allied Sherman blew up easily because it had a petrol engine: all tanks (except the Russians) had petrol engines, all of them blew up easily and the particular problem with the Sherman was ammunition storage which was latter corrected. Pompous in his airy dismissal of some senior allied officers' performance (Monty takes a particular pummelling) suggesting they should have advanced rather than stay put in some situation for example - without making any attempt to understand what the men on the ground had available to make their decision. More importantly I think, he repeats the nowadays fashionable assessment that the 'amateur' Allies overcame the 'professional' Germans by sheer weight of numbers, with the narrative seeming to describe a series of allied near disasters until suddenly the Germans were beaten. He points out that Allied air-power had a huge impact on German supply lines but was too inaccurate to hit tanks, yet doesn't really address how where the Germans beaten then? and how come the Allies had lower casualties than they? I think I know (some of) the answers from reading other books, by other less esteemed authors who've wondered the same. I like my history to ask questions and challenge the accepted view: I was a bit disappointed Mr Beevor didn't do the same.
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on 12 June 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, 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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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2013
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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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 June 2009
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 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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on 1 December 2013
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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on 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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on 1 June 2009
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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on 25 July 2013
I bought a book (Stalingrad) by this writer, from the Air Ambulance charity shop & I was hooked. Very well written and keeps you involved as if you were there. This book prompted me to look up other titles by this author hence this one - D Day - I thought I had read and knew nearly everything about the subject - WRONG!!! It was like reading about another battle altogether. We as the public only hear/read what the authorities want us to hear/read. It actually gives a true account of the battles and mistakes by all sides involved with the consequences, some fortunate and some unfortunate. It shows that the Germans feared the British military most but were also fearful of the American resources. The British did far more than have been given credit for and interestingly - casualties were up to ten times the rate in Russia in a tenth of the area involved in the battles. Many German regiments ceased to exist in front of the British who continually wore them down.
Buy this book D Day and also look up Stalingrad by the same writer, I cannot recommend them enough.
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on 13 July 2009
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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on 30 April 2016
I read this once then offloaded it at the next car boot sale I could find.

I imagine the planning process to be something like this:

Antony Beevor: "So, I've got an idea for a book on D-Day. I thought 'Everyone else is doing one, why not me?' I was just sounding out your views...?"
Antony Beevor's brain: "Well, they do sell like hotcakes those D-Day books. Might be a good idea, get that holiday in Sardinia we've been looking at."
AB: "Excellent, I've been doing a bit of a search for sources. I've got the usual d'Este, Hastings, Ambrose, various biographies by notable people etc etc."
ABB: "Populist and easy-to-read. I like it!"
AB: "Yes, but we've also got these books by the likes of Terry Copp, Stephen Hart, David French and John Buckley. They try to put the actions of the British & Canadian armies in Normandy, as well as the strategy employed by Montgomery, in a wider context within British military tactical and strategic doctrine during the Second World War. I ought to give those a good going over as well, rather than just spout the same old accusations that everyone's been doing for the last 40-odd years."
ABB: "Well, you could do. I'm sure that would be, er, interesting. But those books are quite dry aren't they? They use a lot of long words, like 'doctrine' and 'infantry-armour combined arms'. Do you really want to read those? Plus there's the market to think about. We need something bite-sized and which appeals to a wider audience."
AB: "Well, I suppose those books did look a bit complicated. Plus some of them are pricey, academic works - how rich do they think I am? Okay, you win. Same old simplistic hoary old myths recycled for the 21st Century it is!"
ABB: "I can almost hear the money rolling in, baby!"
AB: "Don't call me that."

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Stalingrad and Berlin when they came out, having read this book I'm now questioning whether any of what I read in the two Ostfront books is remotely trustworthy or relevant. This book put me off Beevor as an author, and I haven't purchased anything by him since.
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