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5.0 out of 5 starsFor anyone who has relied on Hollywood to tell this story, take a breath and read this book.
Reviewed in Canada on April 15, 2017
For anyone who has relied on Hollywood to tell this story, take a breath and read this book. It is an accurate, emotional, educational and surprising compilation of bare naked fact that shows just how fragile living in peace can be.
1.0 out of 5 starsInsulting to British and Canadian vets
Reviewed in Canada on November 5, 2018
Ambrose continually lauds America's contribution to this massive event and minimizes and even insults other countries' contributions. That makes it just another chest-thumping bit of U.S. flag-waving that is only marginally believable - unless you're American, then you'll believe every word. I couldn't finish it.
As readers of my Amazon reviews are aware, I have read and reviewed many books about World War II (for a list seem my Listmania: World War II). This is one of the best. Starting with an analysis of the defenders and the attackers, Author Stephen Ambrose lays out the scene, introduces the characters and tells the story. Ambrose's particular strength is to blend the "big story" of the strategists and generals with the "GI's story" of the individual soldier. This book is obviously drawn from numerous interviews of veterans, their families and civilians who remember the events of D-Day. Those familiar with other of Ambrose's works will recognize stories from those books woven throughout this one.
The reader of "D-Day June 6, 1944" will gain a deeper understanding of how D-Day came about, what it accomplished, what failed and why. There were many things that I had heard of, but this book fits the facts into the overall story. Many of the "German" Army troops defending Fortress Europe were, in fact, Russians, Poles and other "Ost" troops from conquered nations, most of whom were willing to fight only so long as German officers and NCOs were ready to enforce discipline at the point of a gun. Ambrose explains that this amphibious invasion was unprecedented in scope. Many of the technologies on which it relied were being seriously tested for the first time. He proposes that the most decisive Allied bombardment was the Transportation Plan carried out by the Air Forces, which effectively isolated the battle area from German reinforcements by destroying bridges, rail track and rolling stock. He finds this to have been much more effective than the air and naval bombardment which left the bunkers which survive to this day. Many have heard of the involvement of the paratroopers, gliders and those in the amphibious assaults. This book clarifies the role each played in the invasion.
Consistent with the theory that, before the battle is joined, planning is everything and, once it starts, planning means nothing, the early parts of this book concentrate on the plans and preparations for D-Day. Here we read of procurement, training, choice of targets and many other things that go into the planning of an enterprise such as this. Once the troops hit the ground, he focuses on the officers and enlisted men who brought about the success of that and following days though their own initiative and decisions. In this latter part of the book we read of men who rushed bunkers, the dazed, fighting and dead "Germans" they found there, the officers, including the oldest D-Day participant, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who started the war where they were landed, not where they were scheduled to land, and even the civilians who helped one side or the other. In completing the story, Ambrose does not forget the home folks in American and Britain.
Ambrose makes a strong case for the superiority of Allied Men of Arms. I think that many of us have the idea that Germans were the greatest soldiers in the war but that they were overwhelmed by American and Soviet numbers. Ambrose argues against this theory. He makes the case that the average American, Canadian and British enlisted man was a superior fighter to the "Ost" soldiers whom he faced. He points out that the democracies produced armies in which the officers and men could make decisions and adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities. German officers, terrorized by Nazi tyranny, were content to sit until superiors told them what to do. Even when the superiors did make decisions, they often miscalculated. The highly respected Rommel made what was, in Ambrose's mind, a fatal mistake. By putting so much of German effort into the Atlantic War, the Wehrmacht was unable to effectively respond once the Wall was breached, as it was in a day or less. Finally Hitler's own mistakes, primarily based on the belief that the real invasion would come at Pas de Calais, set Germany on the road to defeat and made D-Day, truly, the Climatic Battle of World War II.
Besides his extensive research, Ambrose graces his books with a writing style on a par with a top notch novelist. Through this book the reader will never become bogged down in details nor find his mind drifting. It holds the reader with riveting storytelling and an endless stream of facts which educate, surprise and, on occasion, amuse. For anyone with an interest in World War II, this book is a must.
2.0 out of 5 starsD-Day, Or, How America Won The War
Reviewed in Canada on November 16, 2003
As is common knowledge to everybody except those who were actually there, it was the glorious United States of America - and ONLY the United States of America - that won the Second World War II. That's not gung-ho fairy tales, kids. That's rootin'-tootin' FACT. If you think I'm full of it, then I recommend you take a look at this bloated offering by eminent (and also dead) Yankee historian Stephen Ambrose. Approximately 90% of the book is dedicated to repetitive and unenlightening (though, it must be said, utterly enthralling and devastating) GI recollections of the landings on Utah and Omaha, with very little attention paid to the other Allied operations on Gold, Juno or Sword, or in Normandy as a whole. Countless hundreds of thousands of British, Canadians, and yes, even Australian and New Zealand (though you would have been hard pressed to find more than a dozen of those fellows floating about) all did their part and, in many cases, paid the ultimate sacrafice on 6 June, 1944, but these courageous men and women hardly merit a mention in the eyes of Mr. Ambrose. This will not come as any surprise to those familiar with his other work, notably 'Band Of Brothers' and 'Citizen Soldiers'. After all, Stephen Ambrose was an American historian, and therefore, the bulk of his primary material would have been gleaned from American sources which, as we have seen recently, are very rarely critical of themselves. But some of his offhand comments are downright insulting, as when he postulates that the British essentially milled about drinking tea at their beaches. None of this is meant to be dismissive of the massive (though slightly delayed) contribution that America and American soldiers, sailors and airforcemen made to the invasion of Europe and eventual collapse of the Nazi Party. There is no question that they were a brave, hard-fighting lot, who paid with their lives so that the world could be free. Australia will forever be thankful to America for its help out here in the Pacific, in such engagements as Battle of the Coral Sea, in stemming and then turning back the Japanese marauders. Make no mistake, the USA and its men and women did their fair share in keeping the world safe. But they weren't the only ones, and it's a shame Ambrose seems to think that way. In the end, though, for Yank readers and assorted governing bodies, who seem a pretty self-congratulatory lot, this will no doubt be held high as first-class history for a long long time to come. But for everybody else, Stephen Ambrose's 'D-Day', as a history, is uneven at best and completely infuriating at worst. However, as a rollicking blockbuster airport novel that can be chewed down and then immediately tossed aside, you could certainly do a lot worse.
3.0 out of 5 starsEntirely focussed on the US involvement in D Day
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 10, 2019
This book is almost entirely focussed on the US involvement in D-Day. It goes into great detail on the landings at Omaha and Utah beaches but only skims over the other three Allied landings at Gold, Juno and Sword beaches.
In addition there is a tiny section on the critical British parachute regiments landing at the bridges.
Not really a fully representative account of the entire operation.
The chapter on naval operations sums up this book. The actions of each American warship is described almost shell by shell. This is followed by the statement - there was also a heavy bombardment of the British beaches. The vast majority of warships on D Day were RN.
I have found this book very easy to read and despite the size of it I'm well over halfway thru.The depth of knowledge Mr Ambrose has gives a layman a picture type description of D Day and the massive build up to the event.Great service from the vendor VMT to you.
5.0 out of 5 starsFactual account and Testaments of the Fighting Men themselves
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 21, 2019
Really good read. It was a starter point for me to source other books that documented the action of British Forces (in particular 9th Battalion Parachute Regiment) on D-Day and The Battle for The Roer Triangle during the Ardennes Offensive.