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on 28 November 2001
After reading 3 previous books about the D-day invasion, I can finally say that I won't be buying any more after reading this one. Other historians write as well as Max Hastings, but none have included both the perspective from the Allies as well as the Germans. When you put this book down, you'll have the experience of truly understanding what it was like to be in Northern France in 1944, and not only in the staff rooms of the generals involved, but also what the average private had to endure, in both armies. Anyone who is interested in this topic and doesn't read "Overlord" by Hastings is really missing out. Its money well spent.
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on 29 June 2009
This book provides a very informative picture of the D-Day landings and the immediate aftermath. It pulls no punches and gives an un-biased appraisal of each armies performance and command structure, warts and all. It understands that this was an action fought by men who were basically civilians from democracies, on the allied side, and the problems that such an army ineviatably has in pressing home battles that demand a high attrition rate. (Maybe Stephen Ambrose could take a lesson from this ).Recommended
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on 12 June 2009
Probably the best book on the Normandy campaign just a shame that this excellent book is so badly let down by its presentation, unlike Monty who always made such a good show of such poor performance. Poor printing, especially of the nearly unreadable maps, really does an injustice to this excellent, judicious account.

Out of Ambrose, Beevor and Hastings I'd recommend Hastings, just make sure your have a good pair of glasses!
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on 5 December 1999
I am an italian fanatic of the battle of Normandy who read a lot of books on this subject and I must say that this is my preferit book because it's the only who recreates in a detailed way,from the strategic to the tactical point of view(in particular way) the war between two different sides . When you arrive at the end of it you have really a complete vision of the difficulties of a battle that only on the russian front has been of a such intensity.It's a book similar to the books of Cornelius ryan but much more deep ,if you interest the war in Normandy and you want the best buy it.
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on 23 April 2008
Hasting's 'Overlord' has earned a reputation of being almost as close as one can get to becoming a definitive history of the 1944 landings in Normandy.

Whilst far superior to the work of 'historians' such as Stephen Ambrose, there is still an overwhelming feeling of this book being authored by a journalist and not an historian. Hastings makes many sweeping statements, many of which are totally unfounded, yet does very little to substantiate his claims. He constantly enforces the popular misconception, which have almost become fashionable, to criticise rather than to focus on the positives. Reading 'Overlord' found me actually questioning myself as to whether or not the Allies actually won the Battle of Normandy or not.

There is far too much unbalanced emphasis on the conceived failures, failures which can only be called such with the benefit of no small amount of hindsight. Operation Overlord was the biggest and best operation the western allies launched in WW2 and should be celebrated for what it achieved, not disected to an extent that only with that valuable aid of hindsight can decisions be doubted and triumphs blunted beyond recognition.

Hasting plays up the superiority of the German forces but, in my opinion, fails to give due credit to the forces (prodominantly British) that took on the bulk of the German elite, and beat them into submission within just 71 days in Normandy.

Whilst I dont agree with every sentiment expressed by historians like John Keegan, Carlo D'Este, Denis Whitaker and Terry Copp, these historians make much more effort to present an objective and substantiated account than Hastings achieves in this publication.

I'm afraid to say it but I do have a sense of real disappointment that Hastings may be becoming Britain's very own Stephen Ambrose in so much that he is only interested in sensationalising popular history for a popular audience with more of an eye on book sales than the recording of an accurate, academically robust, history.
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on 20 November 2002
For military history buffs this is Max Hastings at his best (a good historian whose conservative politics don't intrude). The books covers the build-up in early 1944, then takes us through the invasion in it’s various phases culminating with the German collapse and retreat in August. Hastings's questions are fascinating. Why did the Germans not collapse faster, given allied air power and superiority in manpower and guns? Why were their small formations so effective, and why was morale so high (even though most officers knew the war was lost)? It’s highly readable stuff with excellent maps, and provides a nice balance between personal narrative (largely from soldiers' correspondence) and the big picture.
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on 14 November 2005
This is, if not the definitive, certianly the most readable version of the Normandy campaign I have read to date. As narrative history goes, Max Hastings has set the bar very high with this work.
There is some complaint to be made with this not being as strictly academic as other work that has since been produced since this book was released. I think this book is not without it flaws, but ones that are forgiveable. The complaint one reviewer made is legitimate, and perhaps this is more a result of the author trying to keep the momentum of the story moving (this is narrative history after all). The Canadians, for example, fought brilliantly throughout the war. When the author is critical of the Canadians and British failing to make progress against the Germans, this is more probably due to shoddy tactics (little armour & infantry working together) than 'not wanting' to fight. For a good idea of how poor their tactics were, I would recommend reading Panzer Commander by Hans Von Luck. He fought on the other side during Normandy, and it is quite eye-opening how badly the British (and therefore Canadian) attacks were planned and executed. Perhaps another issue could be that the author gives too much credence to Monty's retrospective argument for British and Canadian troops taking the brunt of the German forces and 'allowing' the Americans to break-out of the beach-head. But these are relatively minor matters, and I think the author is right not to get too bogged down in dealing with arguments for and against. Leave that to the academics.
But whatever this book's deficiencies, I dare you to put it down once you start reading. It is an excellent starting point or anyone who wants to understand this campaign.
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VINE VOICEon 26 November 2015
Once more it's the superhuman Germans only just losing to the woefully inadequately trained and equipped Allies who seem to have tinfoil tanks and cardboard boots.

Someone really does need to tell Max that numbers don't really count, what counts is the ability to fight.

Not the spiffy Hugo Boss uniforms, not the super dooper tanks that break down all the time and certainly not the SS men who think they're superman.

I could go on, but I won't...
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on 18 January 2006
I'm no academic but an enthusiast for the history of WW2 and especially the Normandy campaign. I found this book to be a very readable account of what is a very complicated event which we are still unravelling. It was a perfect contrast to the weighty 'After the Battle' tome on D-Day which I had just read (and which for extreme detail is unsurpassable). Hasting's book does a good job in giving the overall picture whilst dipping into the detail with the eyewitness accounts that punctuate the text. He also provides enough conjecture; the relative qualities of the men who particpated, already discussed by other reviewers, the relationship between Monty, Bradley et al, the relationship between the air, sea and land arms and so on. On the negative side you don't get a feel for the territory, particularly the bocage and its effect on manoeuvre, and how an 88mm in the right hands can stop an armoured assault. That having been said, I've yet to come across a book that does. Certainly well worth reading and it takes its place amongst the gallery of essential publications on the subject.
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on 15 July 2013
This took me back to the 2nd World War when as a child I saw the arrival of the GIs in England with their smart uniforms and their generosity to us kids. 'Got any gum chum?' was our cry. This immediacy runs throughout this book.

Hastings deals with Overlord with great conviction and fairness. The difficulties on the Allied side are not glossed over. He acknowledges that the German army was the outstanding fighting force of the Second World War: even in its much reduced capacity it put up a very stubborn resistance in Normandy. Hitler's contribution to defeat through a series of tactical errors is given due attention.

The variable quality of the Allied forces and their leadership is explored very fully. The failure to integrate fully the objectives of the Allied air forces and armies was crucial. 'Bomber' Harris, for example, paid lip service to ground support believing - wrongly - that the bombing of German cities would bring an end to hostilities without the need for ground intervention. But the evidence from German documentation is clear: bombing focussed on petrol supplies and on oil installations would quickly have brought the German army to its knees.

Though written over 30 years ago this account still carries weight. The main criticism I have is that the maps are unreadable, even on a Kindle HD; but highly recommended nevertheless.
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