Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
Thin, confusing, doesn't hit the sweet spot
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, 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.