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The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
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The Longest Day (1959)

by Cornelius Ryan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,573304,644 (4.12)38
Recently added bysidgrace, LitaVore, ravenclawrogue, thorkell, private library, EdwinKort
Legacy LibrariesJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy, Ernest Hemingway
  1. 50
    D-Day June 6 1944: the Climatic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose (timspalding)
  2. 30
    A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (phm)
    phm: A great follow-up to The Longest Day about Operation Market Garden -- inspiring, moving, and renews faith in your fellow man.
  3. 00
    Utah Beach by Joseph Balkoski (Strangcf)
  4. 00
    Gators of Neptune: Naval Amphibious Planning for the Normandy Invasion by Christopher D. Yung (Strangcf)
  5. 01
    Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age (Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series) by Kurt W. Beyer (missmaddie)
    missmaddie: Both of these books paint a picture of war through the lives of those who participated in the war effort, whether it be on the front lines like in The Longest Day or back at home like in The Invention of the Information Age.
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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Almost certainly the best popular history book on D-day ever written though I stand to be corrected on this.

The Longest Day is not a scholarly recitation of the facts (such as they are known) as even to this day there is controversy over what really happened during Operation Overlord. It was an enormously complex and difficult invasion involving 150-thousand people and thousands of supporting ships and planes and uncountable pieces of equipment.

Ryan covers a little bit of everything and sprinkles lots of small details throughout the book that enliven it though he primarily looks at the invasion from on-high as it is a huge subject and properly needs a lot more space to fully cover than the The Longest Day can offer.

I really enjoyed reading about the German perspective on the invasion which he covers quite well. The takeaway ? They really got caught with their pants down and thank God for that !

I would think that since the book was first published in 1959, D-day scholarship has advanced considerably so I expect that we now know a lot more than Ryan did when he wrote the Longest Day. A simple example would be the number of dead on Omaha beach which for a long time was set at 2000-2500 and now is thought to be 4500-5000.

I have not heard of any real controversy over Ryan's version of the landing, he did a lot of research and the touches on a little bit of everything from the early-morning paratroops and gliders right up to Hitler's reaction in Berchtesgaden.

I recommend The Longest Day unreservedly, it's a terrific read and a great first-start for anyone interested in the D-day invasion
( )
  blnq | Dec 27, 2016 |
A must read for those interested in the start of the end of WW2. ( )
  JohnCouke | May 1, 2015 |
to read--(a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history.)
In this compelling tale of courage and heroism. Set against the fateful hours leading up to, and including, the historically fateful day of the Normandy invasion. The author painstakingly revisits and recounts the events which and the momentous battle which occurred on France's soil.
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  cm37107 | Mar 5, 2015 |
In The Longest Day, Cornelius Ryan chronicles the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, beginning with the preparations leading up to it in order to set the stage, both on the Allied side and from the perspective of the German defenders.

I found his discussion of Rommel's role in preparing the defenses and how he came to be absent when the invasion actually came particularly fascinating. Rommel is a difficult figure to unravel as he was relatively honorable for a German commander in some respects---e.g., he wasn't a Nazi, didn't get along with Hitler, respected his enemies and treated prisoners relatively well, etc.---but he still put his consummate military skill in the service of Hitler's Nazi regime and was thereby responsible for much unnecessary death and suffering on both sides. (In these respects he's somewhat similar to Robert E. Lee in the American Civil War who was anti-slavery and anti-secession but still fought for the Confederacy.) Rommel even designed and deployed some nasty German weapons such as underwater mines used off the beaches of Normandy to blow Allied landing craft out of the water. Ryan does a good job presenting these multifaceted aspects of his character.

The second part of the book deals with the the airborne invasion the night before to pave the way for the amphibious landings on the morning of the 6th, which are the subject of the third part. Both are as compelling as anything Ryan has written, because he has prepared the reader to fully understand what's at stake by establishing the context. This book has definitely given me a much deeper appreciation of the meaning of the events of D-Day, as I'm sure it has done for many others, which is why it is deservedly a classic of military history (along with his other books, A Bridge Too Far and The Last Battle, which I also recommend).

http://www.amazon.com/review/RP9QA6F60N8V5 ( )
  AshRyan | Jan 19, 2015 |
The great thing about The Longest Day is its spirit. There's a feeling of embarking on an adventure. It's upbeat and at times very funny. This is not a gritty human tragedy, it still retains some of the can-do sacrifice for the greater good spirit of its time, being published just 15 years after the event. Cornelius Ryan (b. 1920) was of that generation. It's also a valuable work of original research built from 100s of interview with participants on both sides, including higher-level German officers. Yet, it remains entertaining and easy to read like the best creative nonfiction. All around a remarkable book that easily earns 5-stars for longevity as a classic. ( )
  Stbalbach | Dec 14, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cornelius Ryanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chafer, CliveNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edinga, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Believe me, Lang, the first twenty four hours of the invasion will be decisive... the fate of Germany depends on the outcome... for the Allies, as well as Germany, it will be the longest day."

-Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
to his aide. April 22, 1944
Dedication
FOR ALL THE MEN 0F D DAY
First words
The village was silent in the damp June morning.
Quotations
"Blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone."
As they approached Le Havre, Priller climbed for cover in the clouds. They flew for a few more minutes and then broke through. Below them was a fantastic fleet-hundreds of ships of every size and type, stretching endlessly, it seemed, all the way back across the Channel. There was a steady procession of landing craft carrying men toward shore, and Priller could see the white puffs of explosions on and behind the beaches. The sands were black with troops, and tanks and equipment of all sort littered the short line. Priller swept back into the clouds to consider what to do. There were so many planes, so many battleships offshore, so many men on the beaches, that he figured he’d have time for just one pass over the beaches before being shot down. There was no need for radio silence now. Almost lightheartedly, Priller spoke into his microphone. “What a show! What a show!” he said. “There’s everything out here-everywhere you look. Believe me, this is the invasion!” Then he said, “Wodarczyk, were going in! Good luck!” They hurtled down toward the British beaches at over 400 m.p.h., coming in at less than 150 feet. Priller had no time to aim. He simply pressed the button on his control stick and felt his guns pounding. Skimming along just over the tops of men’s heads, he saw upturned, startled faces. On Sword, Commander Philippe Kieffer of the French commandos saw Priller and Wodarczyk coming. He dived for cover. Six German prisoners took advantage of the confusion and tried to bolt. Kieffer’s men promptly mowed them down. On Juno Private Robert Rogge of the Canadian 8th Infantry Brigade heard the scream of the planes and saw them “coming in so low that I could clearly see the pilots’ faces.” He threw himself flat like everyone else, but he was amazed to see one man “calmly standing up, blazing away with a Sten gun.” On the eastern edge of Omaha, Lieutenant (j.g.) William J. Eisemann of the U.S. Navy gasped as the two FW-190s, guns chattering, zoomed down “at less than fifty feet and dodged through the barrage balloons.” And on H.M.S Dunbar, Leading Stoker Robert Dowie watched every antiaircraft gun in the fleet open up on Priller and Wodarczyk. The two fighters flew through it all unscathed, then turned inland and streaked up into the clouds. “Jerry or not,” said Dowie, unbelievingly, “the best of luck to you. You’ve got guts.”
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This classic bestseller--back in print to coincide with the 50th anniversary of D-Day--offers a brilliant, authentic, gripping account of the hours that preceded and followed the Allied invasion of Normandy. "Fifty years from now the history of D-Day, I am sure, will lean heavily on this book".… (more)

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