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D-Day June 6 1944: the Climatic Battle of…

D-Day June 6 1944: the Climatic Battle of World War II (1994)

by Stephen E. Ambrose

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Really comprehensive, gripping history of June 6, 1944 in Normandy. Ambrose is a great popular history writer, and in this book he really gives the reader a sense of the enormity of the endeavor on D-Day. The book focuses most of its time on Omaha Beach, which was the messiest of the invasion beaches due to the failure of the allies to properly bombard the emplacements first thing in the morning. But all the beaches get their due, and a sober assessment of the mistakes and brilliant decisions made by planners, generals, and lesser officers is offered.

The Greatest Generation indeed!

The difficult part of reading the book is that it would really be better as a documentary film, with diagrams and lots of maps. Not knowing the details of the geography of the French coast, I kept referring to maps from other places to get my bearings. There should have been more maps in the book. I would imagine, too, that a person with a military background would have an easier time than I did, as it's hard to picture this stuff if you haven't got a base of understanding. ( )
  DanTarlin | Nov 1, 2015 |
The Battle for the Normandy Beaches. They wanted to be throwing baseballs, not hand grenades, shooting .22s at rabbits, not M-1s at other men. But when the test came, when freedom had to be fought for or abandoned, they fought. They were soldiers of democracy. They were the men of D-Day.

When Hitler declared war on the United States, he bet that the young men brought up in the Hitler Youth would outfight the youngsters brought up in the Boy Scouts. In this magnificent retelling of... ( )
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  Tutter | Feb 21, 2015 |
The word for D-Day is "overwhelming." The amount of men and materiel moved on that day: overwhelming. The death, destruction and waste of the invasion (especially Omaha Beach): overwhelming. The heroism and courage of men of all different types, nationalities and personalities: overwhelming. Along with Cornelius Ryan's "The Longest Day," this narrative is well crafted. Most of the sources were oral histories from the actual participants. The many tales told give one a sense of what the soldiers experienced. These stories are interspersed with the main narrative which looks at the larger questions of strategy, tactics, wisdom and folly. The invasion was a complex plan (done without computers!) of mainly logistics. And that plan lasted until the invasion actually began. Some things went right, most went wrong. Much of the heroics was involved with the soldiers trying to accomplish their objectives anyway, and trying to bring order out of chaos. This book brings this fact home by dozens of stories told in a systematic way about what happened at the various beaches, and with the botching of the airborne paratroop landings. In these days of an all-volunteer army, it was wrenching to realize that most of these soldiers were conscripts and really didn't want to be there; but they did it because they believed Hitler needed to be stopped so badly it was worth their lives. Could we find a quarter of a million civilians with such courage today? Probably; but then, the US is a lot bigger now. Would I be willing to lay down my life for such a cause? A very disturbing question.
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
A very nice book, based on personal accounts of D-Day participants. Stephen E. Ambrose doesn't hesitate to point out the planning and execution mistakes of the high-level leadership on both sides. Fortunately, for the Allies, the Germans were the most unprepared and disorganized. ( )
  MrDickie | Aug 24, 2012 |
Where do I begin with a book like this? Imagine watching a scene from high above. Everything is muted and details are fuzzy. Now imagine swooping in to ground level and being able to engage all the senses. You hear, see, smell, taste and feel everything at close range. D-Day is such a book. You know all about June 6th, 1944 from your textbooks and your history classes. With D-Day, June 6th, 1944: the Climactic Battle of World War II Stephen Ambrose swoops in and takes you down the to fighting. Ground level. You get to hear first hand accounts from the American, British and Canadian men who survived Operation Overlord: the five separate attacks from sea and air. The opening chapter is a parachute drop into enemy territory. Soldiers who fought side by side with buddies who later wouldn't make it recall every emotion. What a strange circumstance, to be fighting for your life and watching men die around you and yet have no fear. They knew they could meet death at any minute but were so moved by commanding offices to keep surging forward. The battle at Omaha Beach illustrates this most poignantly.
Probably the most interesting section of the book was the comparisons between Commanders Eisenhower and Rommel. They had so many things in common they could have been friends had it not been for their opposing positions in the war. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 13, 2012 |
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The most difficult and complicated operation ever to take place.
The destruction of the enemy's landing is the sole decisive factor in the whole conduct of the war and hence in its final results.
The history of war does not know of an undertaking comparable to it for breadth of conception, grandeur of scale, and mastery of execution.
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Order of the Day, June 4, 1944
In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.
ERNIE PYLE, June 12, 1944
Forrest Pogue,
the first historian of D-Day
First words
At 0016 hours, June 6, 1944, the Horsa glider crash landed alongside the Caen Canal, some fifty meters from the swing bridge crossing the canal.
Summers then went to work, charging the first farmhouse, hoping his hodgepodge squad would follow. It did not, but he kicked in the door and sprayed the interior with his tommy gun. Four Germans fell dead, others ran out a back door to the next house. Summers, still alone, charged that house; again the Germans fled. His example inspired Pvt. William Burt to come out of the roadside ditch where the group was hiding, set up his light machine gun, and begin laying down a suppressing fire against the third barracks building. Once more Summers dashed forward. The Germans were ready this time; they shot at him from loopholes but, what with Burt's machine-gun fire and Summers's zigzag running, failed to hit him. Summers kicked in the door and sprayed the interior, killing six Germans and driving the remainder out of the building. Summers dropped to the ground, exhausted and in emotional shock. He rested for half an hour. His squad came up and replenished his ammunition supply. As he rose to go on, an unknown captain from the 101st, misdropped by miles, appeared at his side. "I'll go with you," said the captain. At that instant he was shot through the heart and Summers was again alone. He charged another building, killing six more Germans. The rest threw up their hands. Summers's squad was close behind; he tuned the prisoners over to his men. One of them, Pvt. John Camien from New York City, call out to Summers; "Why are you doing it?" "I can't tell you," Summers replied. "What about the others?" "They don't seem to want to fight," said Summers, "and I can't make them. So I've got to finish it." "OK," said Camien. "I'm with you." Together, Summers and Camien moved from building to building, taking turns charging and giving covering fire. Burt meanwhile moved up with his machine gun. Between the three of them, they killed more Germans. There were two building to go. Summers charged the first and kicked the door open, to see the most improbable sight. Fifteen German artillerymen were seated at mess tables eating breakfast. Summers never paused; he shot them down at the tables. The last building was the largest. Beside it was a shed and a haystack. Burt used tracer bullets to set them ablaze. The shed was used by the Germans for ammunition storage; it quickly exploded, driving thirty Germans out into the open, where Summers, Camien, and Burt shot some of them down as the others fled. Another member of Summers's makeshift squad came up. He had a bazooka, which he used to set the roof of the last building on fire. The Germans on the ground floor were firing a steady fusillade from loopholes in the walls, but as the flames began to build they dashed out. Many died in the open. Thirty-one others emerged with raised hands to offer their surrender. Summers collapsed, exhausted by his nearly five hours of combat. He lit a cigarette. One of the men asked him, "How do you feel?" "Not very good," Summers answered. "It was all kind of crazy. I'm sure I'll never do anything like that again." Summers got a battlefield commission and a Distinguished Service Cross. He was put in for the Medal of Honor, but the paperwork got lost. In the late 1980's, after Summers's death from cancer, Pvt. Baker and others made an effort to get the medal awarded posthumously, without success. Summers is a legend with American paratroopers nonetheless, the Sergeant York of World War II. His story has too much John Wayne/Hollywood in it to be believed, except that more than ten men saw and reported his exploits.
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Stephen E Ambrose draws from more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French, and German veterans to create the preeminent chronicle  of the most important day in the twentieth century. Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion were abandoned, and how ordinary soldiers and officers acted on their own initiative.

D-Day is above all the epic story of men at the most demanding moment of their existence, when the horrors, complexities, and triumphs of life are laid bare. Ambrose portrays the faces of courage and heroism, fear and determination  - what Eisenhower called "the fury of an aroused democracy" - that shaped the victory of the citizen soldiers whom Hitler had disparaged.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 068480137X, Paperback)

Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, Stephen E. Ambrose's D-Day: June 6, 1944 relies on over 1,400 interviews with veterans, as well as prodigious research in military archives on both sides of the Atlantic. He provides a comprehensive history of the invasion which also eloquently testifies as to how common soldiers performed extraordinary feats. A major theme of the book, upon which Ambrose would later expand in Citizen Soldiers, is how the soldiers from the democratic Allied nations rose to the occasion and outperformed German troops thought to be invincible. The many small stories that Ambrose collected from paratroopers, sailors, infantrymen, and civilians make the excitement, confusion, and sheer terror of D-day come alive on the page. --Robert McNamara

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:28 -0400)

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Reveals the intricate plan for the invasion of France in June 1944, based on 1400 oral histories from the men who were there.

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