D Day: June 6, 1944:
The Climactic Battle of World War II

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D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II
by Stephen Ambrose



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Book Description

Stephen E. Ambrose draws from more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French, and German veterans to create the preeminent chronicle of the most important day in the twentieth century. Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion were abandoned, and how ordinary soldiers and officers acted on their own initiative.

D-Day is above all the epic story of men at the most demanding moment of their existence, when the horrors, complexities, and triumphs of life are laid bare. Ambrose portrays the faces of courage and heroism, fear and determination -- what Eisenhower called "the fury of an aroused democracy" -- that shaped the victory of the citizen soldiers whom Hitler had disparaged.

Stephen E. Ambrose is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller D-Day and multivolume biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. He is the founder of the Eisenhower Center and of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. He lives in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and Helena, Montana.

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From Publishers Weekly
Using eyewitness accounts from both sides of the battlefield, Ambrose reconstructs the invasion that turned the tables of WWII in favor of the allies.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
World War II buffs have always liked books about the Normandy invasions, but most popular accounts are now several years old. Ambrose has updated the familiar story of the massive amphibious landings with new information, deft historical perspective, and a gripping narrative.

Several opening chapters about the strategic situation and the laborious preparations for the invasion keep this book from becoming just another battlefield drama. His portraits of the various military commanders are superb. Numerous interviews with Allied veterans provide fresh material for the vital human element of the story, and accounts from German survivors show the enemy's viewpoint. The result is the best popular history since Max Hastings's vigorous Overload: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy (LJ 6/1/84), detailed enough for the historian yet with plenty of action for the lay reader. Recommended for public and military collections.
--Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Edwards AFB
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
An expert on D-Day, Ambrose heads a premier oral history archive based in New Orleans. He has written invasion-related narratives on both the macro (a two-volume biography of General Eisenhower, 1983 and 1991) and the micro (Band of Brothers: E Company, 501st Regiment, 1992) scales. This fiftieth anniversary salvo brackets the big and small as it finds the range on its target: the critical first hours of American landings on Utah and Omaha Beaches, and concurrent paratroop drops behind the lines. Ambrose calls his text a "love song to democracy." Since it draws from some 1200 eyewitness testimonials collected in his archive, however, his book might more accurately be thought of as an organization of the chaotic, terrifying, and courageous experiences of the first soldiers to face the Nazi hellfire. An excellent editor of the raw material, who knows Pointe du Hoc as if he had scaled it himself, Ambrose situates his pungent, laconic, and gruesome quotations at virtually the exact spots where they were uttered, and he is completely unbashful in his patriotic reverence for the sacrifices these men made. A consuming and highly readable memorial to the day's infantry-unit victors--one that World War II veterans will demand in strength. Ambrose's is the leading and required element in the coming wave of commemorative books. (Watch for the round-up review in the May 1 Booklist) Gilbert Taylor

From Kirkus Reviews
A splendid, moving, and authoritative account of the most decisive day of WW II by Ambrose (History/Univ. of New Orleans), whose massive biographies of Eisenhower and Nixon have won widespread praise. Based on ``the most extensive first-person, I-was-there collection of memoirs of a single battle in existence,'' Ambrose moves easily between the strategy of each side and the individual recollections of the battle. He conveys not only the magnitude of the enterprise but its complexity. He also suggests some significant changes to the conventional interpretation of the war, most notably in the view hitherto taken about the respective quality of leadership and soldiers on each side. He contradicts the belief in the superiority of the German soldiers and says that the higher losses they inflicted against the Anglo-American armies derived from the necessity for the latter to take the offensive. The German army was, he writes, ``inferior in all respects (except for weaponry, especially the 88s and the machine guns) to its allied opponents.'' He call Rommel's plan to stop the Allied invasion on the beach ``one of the greatest blunders in military history,'' and he compares the strategy to that of the French Maginot line. By contrast, he argues that Eisenhower's judgment was generally right and that he not only inspired his subordinates but also showed courage in rejecting suggestions for an alternative strategy from Army Chief of Staff George Marshall. But most memorable in the account are the tales of individual heroism, from the 16-year-old French girl who, with a group of companions, paralyzed the German Second Panzer Division by removing the axle grease from its transporters and substituting an abrasive, to the Canadian soldier who threw himself down on barbed wire to enable his companions to use his body as a ladder. A brilliant account that blends perfectly the human and the strategic dimensions of this great battle. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to U.S. News & World Report; Book-of-the- Month Club main selection; History Book Club main selection) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
Reading this history, you can understand why for so many of its participants, despite all the death surrounding them, life revealed itself in that moment at that place.

Capturing the glory and suspense of the invasion that changed the course of World War II, a narrative based on hundreds of eyewitness accounts of veterans and government and private archives creates a portrait of the monumental battle. Reprint. 100,000 first printing. NYT.

Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, Stephen E. Ambrose's D-Day: June 6, 1944 relies on over 1,400 interviews with veterans, as well as prodigious research in military archives on both sides of the Atlantic. He provides a comprehensive history of the invasion which also eloquently testifies as to how common soldiers performed extraordinary feats. A major theme of the book, upon which Ambrose would later expand in Citizen Soldiers, is how the soldiers from the democratic Allied nations rose to the occasion and outperformed German troops thought to be invincible. The many small stories that Ambrose collected from paratroopers, sailors, infantrymen, and civilians make the excitement, confusion, and sheer terror of D-day come alive on the page. --Robert McNamara

Excerpt - copyrighted material

Chapter 1: The Defenders

At the beginning of 1944, Nazi Germany's fundamental problem was that she had conquered more territory than she could defend, but Hitler had a conqueror's mentality and he insisted on defending every inch of occupied soil. To carry out such orders, the Wehrmacht relied on improvisations, of which the most important were conscripted foreign troops, school-age German youths and old men, and fixed defensive positions. It also changed its tactical doctrine and weapons design, transforming itself from the highly mobile blitzkrieg army of 1940-41 that had featured light, fast tanks and hard-marching infantry into the ponderous, all-but-immobile army of 1944 that featured heavy, slow tanks and dug-in infantry.

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