Book of the Week #2

Anthony Beevor – D-Day: The Battle for Normandy

Aside from the battle of Arnhem, and perhaps the battle of the Somme, D-Day is cerainly one of the most written about battles in military history. This book is the latest offering from Anthony Beevor, Author of Stalingrad and Berlin. The dustjacket offers ‘use of overlooked and new material… the most vivid and well-researched account yet’.  It also claims that Beevor’s narrative ‘conveys the true experience of war’, which is probably an unrealistic expectation for any book, no matter the author.

Beevor picks up from the fateful day on which Eisenhower made the decision to launch the Invasion, and then follows, in narrative, through to the Airborne assaults, the seaborne landings, the failure to capture Caen, the debacle at Villers Bocage, the breakout, the Falaise pocket and the libertion of Paris. Eminently readable and packed with details, Beevor makes use of veterans accounts, plentiful illustrations and some particularly detailed maps. If you knew absolutely nothing about the Battle of Normandy before picking up this book, you certainly would upon putting it down.

The promised groundbreaking research and new angles fail to deliver, sadly. If you already know about PLUTO, about Omaha, about Pegaus Bridge, Ham and Jam and Epson and Goodwood, there may not be all too much to interest you in this book. Beevor has clearly aimed more for the general interest market than students of the Second World War. Which is no bad thing by any means; but if you really want to get to grips with the arguments, the politics, and especially the post-war debates, you might be better served by reading books by Robin Neillands and/or Carlo D’Este. Any student of the Battle of Normandy will probably know that the battle has been raked over again and again, and there probably isnt too much new to offer unless new sources become available. But one thing Beevor’s thorough narrative has in abundance is a clear readability that should not put off the more casual reader.

D-Day: The Battle for Normandy

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Filed under Book of the Week, World War Two

41 responses to “Book of the Week #2

  1. papercutgirl

    I take exception to your interpretation because although Beevor does offer an overview, it is an overiew peppered with annecdotes and vignettes which do more to describe the political arguments than the cold arguments set forth by a more distant author. Also you cannot fault his attention to detail which does provide a far more visceral realtiy of the conflict than many of the above authors.

    Furthermore the book does not claim to provide an indepth assesment of the post-war situation and emerging politics – it is a narrative of that conflict. Nothing more.

    Having said that I am not a particular fan of Beevor’s and although some of his stuff is brilliant, I think his is often grossly overrated.

    Surely that has

  2. James Daly

    As someone who has read most – if not all – of the books about D-Day, when I first picked this book up, I felt that it offered nothing new that hadn’t already been published by other authors. Which is fine, as I mentioned in my review over a year ago, D-Day has been raked over and picked apart so much that theres probably not one document that hasnt been examined. But in that case, an author shouldn’t claim that his work is ground-breaking. I really wanted to like this book, and perhaps if I knew absolutely nothing about D-Day I would find it a useful start.

    The books out there by Carlo D’Este, Robin Neillands, Max Hastings, Robert Kershaw and Stephen Ambrose – not to mention the multitude of more detailed unit histories and more specialised books – go into more detail and in their time really were ground-breaking.

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