Skip to main content

CR3 #19: D-Day June 6, 1944 by Stephen Ambrose

Stephen Ambrose writes some of the best historical non-fiction I have read (and I have read quite a lot.) His work regarding the European theater of WW2 is stellar--richly detailed and extremely well-researched.

This particular book deals with D-Day--there is some lead-up, details about how the invasion was planned and prepared for, but it is mostly just the events of June 6, 1944. Ambrose goes through each group that participated--paratroopers, bombers, sailors, infantry, engineers, Rangers, commandos, etc--and takes them from the staging ground up on to the beaches of Normandy. He explains, with the aid of photos and maps, where each group was, what their objectives were, and how successfully they completed the planned objectives.

The Allied invasion of France was a success due to several factors. The first was the ability of the Allies to create and produce the sheer amount of materials needed to move and equip a force of this size and nature. The second factor was the amount of planning that went into the process; the military personnel participating were trained so thoroughly that even unexpected changes and challenges were met without much panic. A third factor was the ability of the Allied troops to make adjustments--many of the commanding officers were killed early in the landing, and lower-level officers, noncoms, and even enlisted men were able (due partly to their extensive training) to stand up and lead their fellow men to the objectives. Another reason for success was the Allies' access to information--between Allied spies, Air Force photography, and members of the French resistance, the Allies were able get a very good idea of what would be waiting for them, which allowed them to plan accordingly. A final factor was the German command's almost opposite situation--the soldiers were ill-prepared (many were either too young or too old, and had spent little time combat training, and instead spent most of their time building the Atlantic wall defenses), their information was poor (the Allies' use of misdirection led the majority of German forces to be in the north of France, preparing for an assault on Norway), their troops were often disinterested (many were prisoners from the Eastern front who were perfectly happy to surrender), they had trouble moving the supplies they had (bombing raids had disabled many of the roads and train tracks, making it difficult to get any supplies to the area), and the command structure was set up in a way that did not allow for initiative--everything had to be approved, sometimes directly by Hitler himself. By the time the Germans were aware of what was happening, it was already too late.

This book is extremely detailed, and it's clear that the author was very diligent about his research. He quotes hundreds of interviews and oral histories from men involved in all areas of the conflict, so much of the book is told in the words of the men who lived it. That adds a wonderful feeling of realism to the whole thing. It is amazing, funny, exciting, and sad by turns.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys American history. It is both well-written and jam-packed with information.


Figgylicious said…
I'm definitely gonna look out for this one. I have a thing for WW2 books ("Enemy at the Gates" was amazing) and this one sounds right up my alley.
siegereads said…
I highly recommend any of Stephen Ambrose's work--they're all just like this one...well written and intensely researched by speaking to the sources.

Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #2 - Southern Gods

I've had Southern Gods on my TBR list for so long I no longer remember why I put it there. Was it a recommendation from Amazon? From Goodreads? Did someone I know recommend it? Did it cross my path as a "If you liked __________ then you'll like this too!"

Maybe I heard it through the grapevine?

I only know that recently, I happened to come across it on my wishlist and decided to go ahead and splurge on it.

I'm glad I did.

In 1951 Memphis, war veteran and leg-breaker-for-hire Bull Ingraham gets a new assignment: a record company has lost one of their employees somewhere. Early Freeman set off to deliver new records to radio stations, and has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. His boss at Helios Records is anxious to find him...and also anxious to find a mysterious blues musician whose music can do terrible things to the living -- and to the dead.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Sarah Rheinhart leaves her abusive husband and returns to her family home, where …

CR3 #30: The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

I saw the movie of The First Wives Club before I read the book. It's a cute chick flick, in which scorned women take comedic revenge on their former spouses. They become better friends and everyone winds up happy in the end. I was somewhat surprised (though not much--the differences between film and literature are often wide) at how different the book was--I am used to changes in plot or small character changes (combining two characters into one, or perhaps changing to a more pleasant ending) but the major change here between novel and movie was the tone.

The story is basically the same; After a close friend's suicide, three middle-aged female friends get together and beginning reviewing their lives. They realize that much like their late friend, they have been screwed over by the men in their lives--the men used them to get to their high social and financial positions, then screwed them over both personally and financially. The three women decide to use their wits and their co…