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The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day (1959)
by Cornelius Ryan
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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. ( )
The first in Ryan's WWII trilogy. He's got a great story to tell, that of the American Army in northwest Europe, and he tries and succeeds pretty well. By its nature episodic, and short on maps, but a good spot to start one's study of the battle.
This is a good book. What is not good is the ebook setting of margins and paragraph breaks. The last 40 per cent comes over like a drunk was typing it. 4 stars for the early part. 2 stars for the latter part.
This is one of the books that have kept me from sleep all week. Before I get to my thoughts on the book, I want to explain a few things about the physical copy of the book.
You all know by now that I am History-addict. I recently read The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach another 5 star read, for me, about D-Day. A few members of a group here recommended I read this account of D-day. It was not an easy book to find but I ended up getting a copy to read from MELCAT, the Michigan inter-library.
When the book arrived, I thought "Good God, it's going to fall apart in my hands." How wrong (and right?) I was. I say both words because the book did fall apart-not physically-but it fell apart into my heart and soul with all the souls of the past readers.
This book was published in 1959, this was an original copy of the first edition. It is taped up- top to bottom with mailing tape. If you remember the old "stamped" due dates that appeared inside the front cover of books: This started circulation on May 10, 1960 and ends March 24, 2000. Obviously the last is when they switched to computers. I want to thank the Vicksburg Library for keeping this in circulation, and trying desperately to preserve it's history. I believe when I return the book, I will attach a thank you note!
This book covers D-Day-but through a thousand eyewitnesses (and he lists them all at the end of the book). The soldiers, their families, the Underground, the people who lived in the villages along the French Coast. Cornelius Ryan was an Irish Journalist who covered the war while being attached to various Air-Bourne and Land units. What made this story more chilling than ever for me? The fact that this man was writing the oral history just a a few years after, as spoken through those who fought and survived . It is told by all the fighters and survivors, from the countries who sent men to fight the evil that gripped Europe, not just the Americans.
I read this years ago and just went back to it. It's always been known as one of the "classic histories" of D-Day, June 6, 1944. I'm not quite sure it deserves that status. I've read others ( ([b:The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945|16044941|The Guns at Last Light The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #3)|Rick Atkinson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1435169033s/16044941.jpg|21858205] comes to mind) that seem to me to be more accurate, detailed, and personal than Cornelius Ryan. Perhaps back in 1959 this book was seen as great, and he does do a fine job of telling short stories about participants from France, Germany, England, Canada, and US. But those stories seem very short - a couple of paragraphs for most of them. And would it have been so hard to include a map!?!? Kudos to Ryan for including the job of the participants as an appendix.
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The classic account of the Allied invasion of Normandy The Longest Day is Cornelius Ryan's unsurpassed account of D-day, a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history. In this compelling tale of courage and heroism, glory and tragedy, Ryan painstakingly re-creates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany. This book, first published in 1959, is a must for anyone who loves history, as well as for anyone who wants to better understand how free nations prevailed at a time when darkness enshrouded the earth.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)940.542142History and Geography Europe Europe 1918- Military History Of World War II Campaigns and battles by theatre European theatre France
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