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.