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The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan

The Longest Day (1959)

by Cornelius Ryan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,743326,059 (4.11)57
  1. 70
    D-Day June 6 1944: the Climatic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose (timspalding)
  2. 50
    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. 10
    Utah Beach by Joseph Balkoski (Strangcf)
  4. 10
    Gators of Neptune: Naval Amphibious Planning for the Normandy Invasion by Christopher D. Yung (Strangcf)
  5. 03
    Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age 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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» See also 57 mentions

English (29)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I do not intentionally try to diminish the qualities of this book by my rating. It IS a worthwhile read, especially if you don't know much about D-Day. It covers the lead up to D-Day and D-Day itself well, but it suffers from having too much to cover, and, as a result, through no fault of its own, can do no more than a widely scattered reporting of many different events and persons, resulting in a certain level of superficiality. (For a comparison, watch Ken Burns' The Civil War, and then read Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative. The comparison reveals Burns' video to be so superficial as to be misleading and ultimately inaccurate at times.) Moreover, this is really just Chapter 1 of a much larger book, so to speak. You certainly have a feeling of being cut off from the story line when the book ends. "What happens next? Tell me." For that reason and for the quality of Ryan's scholarship, I intend to read more of his work, such as The Bridge Too Far. ( )
  larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
Engrossing short narrative synthesis built from official diaries and eye-witness testimonies. New to me was to learn how much of the Allies' plan went wrong from the start. Fortunately the Germans were slow to react to clues the invasion was happening. Otherwise, judging by this telling, D-Day could have gone down as a disaster. The author could have gone into more detail on two ancillary strategic matters: the disinformation campaign that convinced the Germans the invasion would come elsewhere, and the actions of Resistance and commando units throughout France to wreck railways and rolling stock which would have brought up reinforcements, since these were as key to the success of the campaign as the immediate events. A bizarre omission in my later edition is to not have included a D-Day map. The five stars are earned by the way the author has distilled an enormous amount of evidence, concerning many people, places and events, into a readable story that clearly explains both the strategic overview and many individual moments and experiences. ( )
1 vote wa233 | Feb 9, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cornelius Ryanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chafer, CliveNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edinga, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"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
First words
The village was silent in the damp June morning.
"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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