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Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris Paperback – 10 Dec 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New edition edition (10 Dec. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712655794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712655798
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 3 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,001,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An unsurpassed account of the Allied invasion of France from D-Day to the liberation of Paris."--"Observer""As well as being a rare military historian who can also write gracefully, John Keegan has a distinguished capacity for peering behind the conventional view of events." --Alistair Horne, "Sunday Times""As a military historian John Keegan has the qualities of the best commanders, broad strategic grasp combined with insight into the human fibre of the battlefield, and an eye to what the lessons portend." --"Observer"

Book Description

'An unsurpassed account of the Allied invasion of France from D-Day to the liberation of Paris. As a military historian John Keegan has the qualities of the best commanders, broad strategic grasp combined with insight into the human fibre of the battlefield, and an eye to what the lessons portend.' Observer --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
This is not a complete history of the campaign in Normandy, nor does it profess to be. What Keegan does cover he covers very well and has achieved what I believe he set out to achieve very well.

I must however take issue with one or two prior reviwers comments. Many people say that this particular publication is exceptionally readable. I dont actually find this to be the case. I find Keegans prose rather too flowery at times and he certainly goes alittle too far in giving background to various aspects of the plot to the state I feel it drifts somewhat irrelevantly away fronm the subject matter in hand.

Having said that, to cover the German, British, Canadian, French, Polish and American input on an equal basis has given us a superb history which veers away from the Ambrose-esque over-emphasis of American involvement which leads many to believe the Americans won the battle all by themselves. A preconception believed by many which detracts from the efforts of the Coalition, of which the Americans were the Junior members on D-Day and wouldnt outnumber their allies until toward the end of the campaign in Normandy.

In summary; a fantastic history of the campaign in Normandy, if not a little flowery and maybe, in view of the numerous mentions of the cold war described as being in the modern day, in need of being brought up to date a little.
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The great success of the D-Day landings with less casualties than expected is very well known as a result of numerous books and films like the Longest Day but less well known is the tremendous skill in defence demonstrated by the German army in the weeks following D-Day when they managed to hold the allied armies in Normandy for so long and inflict so many casualties through their brilliant use of the terrain and this was often in the face of being greatly outnumbered and outgunned by the allied forces. The bitter fighting in June and early July until the breakout is superbly told by Keegan and is viewed from the differing perspectives of the participants in seperate sections of the book - the Americans, the Canadians, the British, the Germans, the Polish and the French and this gives the book a particular value and scope.

Keegan's account is extremely well written and thorough (as is all his work), exciting and very effectively conveys the frustration of the allies at not being able to break through, the impatience of the Americans with Montgomery at the slow progress of his 21st Army Group and the headlong rush of the American army under Patton after they broke through the German defences. The carnage of the German Army and the destruction of their forces around Falaise is particularloy well told by Keegan - as an historian of the second world war Keegan has few equals.

David Rowland
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John Keegan is a well-known military historian. He is not giving an account of the battles in Normandy. Rather he gives 6 vignettes of the experiences of the 6 armies who fought in Normandy. These were the American, the British, the Canadian, the German, the Polish and the French. The last 2 were comprised of 1 division each.

The American episode deals chiefly with the airborne forces dropped behind Utah Beach. The Canadian section deals with the landing on Juno Beach. The British Army gets 2 episodes,, 1 Scottish and 1 English. The German episode was the Mortain counter-attack ordered by Hitler despite the warnings of his generals. If it succeeded, the Allied breakout at Avranches could be plugged. If it failed the bulk of the German army in France could have been surrounded.The attack failed, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that the German Army extricated itself from the Falaise pocket. Though it succeeded, it was only after a headlong retreat of over 200 miles that the front was again stabilized.

In order to bottle up the German Army in the Faslaise pocket, the First Polish Armoured Division was ordered to place itself across the line of retreat. The task was probably too much for a single division to stem the German attacks from both sides. The Germans were at the same time trying to hold off Patton's Third Army to the south and the Canadians from the North. The Canadians finally arrived to rescue the hard-pressed Poles.

Perhaps the most interesting is the liberation of Paris by the Second French Armoured division. The Americans had no great love for Charles de Gaulle. They also intended to bypass Paris to the east and west. But de Gaulle was determined that France should be liberated by Frenchmen, and he got his way.
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Given the time that has past and my age (68) I thought I had read or been informed of all they was of importance about the D-day landings in 1944. Keegan's book although in print for sometime now is well worth reading because it gives the background to the 6 Armies. As an example the detail about the Canadian Force explained the attitudes of both English and French speaking Canadians and why, for both the 1st and 2nd world wars. Similar background for The Poles and the free French was good reading and essential to the understanding of why it was such an enduring success for freedom and free will.
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