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The Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord

The Miracle of Dunkirk (1982)

by Walter Lord

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A great book [The Miracle of Dunkirk] by [[Walter Lord]]. I knew about the evacuation of the British army from the beaches of Dunkirk in May, 1940 but I didn't know much more. Lord explains what the Germans did to make it necessary and how the telephone communications system the French insisted upon failed completely so no one, the army in Northern Europe or the command officers in Dover or the war cabinet in London, had a clue what was actually happening on the ground. And finally how it was done, using fishing boats, pleasure crafts, destroyers and every size of boat available to evacuate close to 400,000 English and French soldiers from France to England. An amazing feat that is well told using official records as well as personal recollections. Highly recommended.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ( )
  pmarshall | Mar 31, 2017 |
One of the fine books by Walter Lord. As always he interviewed extensively and presents a human story. ( )
  Whiskey3pa | Apr 12, 2011 |
This book tells of the resuce attempt of 400,000 Allied troops who were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk with the German armies steadily advancing to their capture. At first, everyone in England felt that their cause was hopeless.
The story leads up to the resuce with hundreds of interviews of the participants.
The author lets the reader experience what is happening as if reading the conflict and episodes in the local newspaper or in the letters the troops sent home.
With all the excessive interviews however, the reading was laborious and I failed to maintain interest. ( )
1 vote mikedraper | Aug 16, 2009 |
Walter Lord weaves an exciting tale as he relates the British 'evacuation' (i.e. retreat) of Dunkirk. The Brits were aided by several 'miracles' that are closely examined by Lord: Hitler's decision to stop his tanks from annihilating the escaping British (he was saving the tanks for France), 9 days of calm seas on the English Channel, and literally thousands of small private English boats that aided in the escape of some 338,000 troops - essentially the entire British Expeditionary Force and a sizeable force of French soldiers. Lord describes the Churchhill's efforts to keep the French happy as they were left alone on the Continent.

In his "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech of June 4, 1940, Churchhill acknowledged to the House of Commons, "We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations. But there was a victory inside this deliverance, which should be noted."

The escape from Belgium encouraged Churchill: "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

Lord interviewed some 500 survivors of Dunkirk to write his book, which informs the telling with an immediacy and verite missing from more academic treatments.

Highly recommended for the general reader of history, especially WW II. ( )
  dougwood57 | Apr 6, 2008 |
3871. The Miracle of Dunkirk, by Walter Lord (read 4 Apr 2004) When on Feb 6, 2003, I read Atonement, a novel by Ian McEwen, there was an account of one of the characters being evacuated from Dunkirk. I thought the account of his ordeal was limited and when I saw this 1982 book by Walter Lord, whose A Night to Remember (involving the Titanic (read 16 Mar 1961), The Good Years: From 1900 to the First World War (read 16 Sep 1962), and Day of Infamy (read 1 Jan 1964) were all good reading, I decided to read it. While it is anecdotal it is thoroughly researched and there are many moving and horrific things in the book and one comes away with a better idea of the event, which resulted in the evacuation of 224,686 British and 123,395 French troops, though there was much loss of life involved as well--the Nazis did not just sit back and let them leave, by any means. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 3, 2007 |
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Stranded on the beach with the Nazis closing in, the British army managed one of the most unlikely maneuvers in modern military history In May of 1940, the remnants of the French and British armies, broken by Hitler's blitzkrieg, retreated to Dunkirk. Hemmed in by overwhelming Nazi strength, the 338,000 men who gathered on that beach were all that stood between Hitler and Western Europe. Crush them, and the path to Paris and London was clear. And so, unable to retreat any farther, the Allied soldiers set up defense positions and prayed for deliverance. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an evacuation on May 26th, expecting to save no more than a handful of his men. But Britain would not let its soldiers down. Hundreds of fishing boats, pleasure yachts, and commercial vessels streamed into the Channel to back up the Royal Navy, and in a week nearly the entire army was ferried safely back to England.… (more)

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