D-day : the Battle for Normandy

by Antony Beevor

Paper Book, 2009




New York : Viking, 2009.


From critically acclaimed world historian, Antony Beevor, this is the first major account in more than twenty years to cover the whole invasion from June 6, 1944, right up to the liberation of Paris on August 25. It is the first book to describe not only the experiences of the American, British, Canadian, and German soldiers, but also the terrible suffering of the French caught up in the fighting.

Media reviews

This is a superb book and a model of the historian’s craft. It stands as the best one-volume history of this decisive military engagement.
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Antony Beevor's impeccable attention to detail ensures that the horrors of the Normandy invasion are brought vividly to life..
All this was 65 years ago. The scars of Normandy have healed surprisingly quickly. Beevor’s book superbly brings the events of that summer to life again and reminds us of why we should never allow ourselves to forget them.

User reviews

LibraryThing member dswaddell
A really unbiased history of the German , British, Canadian, and Polish forces during and after the invasion. It brings up rarely heard stories such as the large number of conscripted Russian troops that made up a good percentage of the defending German forces as well as the attitudes and political policies of the French. A very enjoyable and educational read.… (more)
LibraryThing member tbrennan1
Very interesting account of D-Day and the subsequent battles for Normandy up to the Liberation of Paris.Gripping narrative of the fierce battles in the Normandy "Bocage",where American soldiers proved themselves against the Germans.However the book illustrates the terrible suffering and sacrifices of French civilians from both Air and Artillery bombardment ,which is often understated in other D-day books.The book is critical of Montgomery and his strategies and gives due credit to the dogged defense by the German army which lacking Air cover made the Allies fight for every inch of Normandy before the brilliant breakout by American armor led by Bradley and Patton which eventually led to the Paris uprising and the liberation of the city by both French and American troops.… (more)
LibraryThing member rrees
Beevor has a beautiful written style and specialises in a holistic historical narrative style that is always enjoyable to read. He combines sources from both sides in the conflict and makes sure to include the civilian view of affairs to paint a whole picture of complex events.

I have enjoyed his previous books and while this has all the hallmarks of his writing I cannot feel that perhaps the history of D-Day has been retrodden once too often.

Beevor makes sure the German side of events is represented and clarifies the suffering of the French population during the campaign. He does not gloss over the atrocities and friendly fire incidents on both sides. He is clear-eyed on the numerous conflicts within the allied forces. It is a good, balanced piece of history that refuses to make simple judgements in the absence of evidence and tries to provide the reader with the means to draw their own conclusions.

And yet, what more is there that can be said really? Beevor decides against Montgomery in one of the key controversies of the period. He also indicates that he thinks air power was less decisive as a weapon that generally judged while still allowing for its important interdictive effect on supplies and German movement.

It is a great introduction but those familiar with the outline of events will find a few interesting bits and pieces (for me I felt the politics and mindsets of both sides were revealing, neither side grasped the psychology of the other instead assuming that their opponents shared their own view of the world) and a well-written narrative history. Stalingrad or Berlin would probably be better choices if you haven't read them already.
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LibraryThing member GeoKaras
Excellent account of D-Day and the subsequent fighting in Northern France to the liberation of Paris. Covers all forces fighting in Normandy and includes the impact of the fighting on the French civillians. Worth adding to any World War Two collection.
LibraryThing member sloopjonb
Too much detail of battles and not enough about the genesis and planning of Overlord. Chapter on the liberation of Paris was quite good. Chapter about the Stauffenberg plot was irrelevant. Otherwise for military geeks only.
LibraryThing member rory1000
The Americans contribution to the success of the Allied invasion cannot be in doubt after reading this book. Also, the French come out of this account very well, and Beevor is keen mention all the other nationalities involved on the Allied side. Great History always informs and deepens knowledge. Beevor succeeds here, with this reviewer who was surprised by his view on the British General Montgomery; who emerges from this account less well and is lambasted at almost every turn

This is brilliant descriptive history, and provides flashes of analysis. For the more serious historian or military thinker, this book will be a good starting point, but is aimed more for the general reader.

Beevor doesn’t pull any punches either; atrocities were committed by both sides. It is also clear that D Day was part war of attrition, part war of annihilation. In this sense, it was a consistent with most of the rest of the Second World War, rather than an aberration.
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LibraryThing member johnthefireman
An excellent read. It gives the big picture of grand strategy and large-scale offensives, but intersperses anecdotes about and quotes from ordinary people which gives it a human touch and makes it very readable.

This story of the D-Day landings and the campaign for Normandy takes us right up to the liberation of Paris. It appears to be well-balanced; its criticism of Montgomery is probably pretty mainstream these days.

My usual complaint about this type of book is the maps. For about two thirds of this particular book, I found the maps to be very clear and comprehensive. Only towards the end of the book did I find the text mentioning places that were not marked on the maps. While the detailed maps of the battles were good (apart from that proviso), it would have benefited from a couple of general maps to show where everything fitted together, again especially towards the end when the stage suddenly expanded.
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LibraryThing member wolffamily
Very detailed book outlining the battle of D-Day all the way through the liberation of Paris. - Greg
LibraryThing member aadyer
An excellent overview. Not exhaustative but excellent none the less. MOntgomery doesn't come out of this well, and the Americans clearly did very well. It was shocking to hear some of the British tactics and the fact that at one point, we let most of a German army out of our grasp. Very good combination of both first person eye witness testimony & also military unit movements. Good maps, good photos & ended quite appropriately @ the capture of Paris, recommended… (more)
LibraryThing member Luftwaffe_Flak
Excellently written book by an excellent author. Spends equal time on the British, Canadian, French, German and US forces but also involves the various political attitudes behind them all and how they interacted. Offers an unblinking look at the atrocities committed by both the Allies and the Germans during this campaign. At times hard to put down, and at times hard to read (due to the honest look at the atrocities). Everything a good history book should be in my opinion.… (more)
LibraryThing member nog
One of the surprises for me here is something you rarely read about: how many American and British troops died from friendly fire. In an operation this huge, really unfortunate mistakes are made.
LibraryThing member jamespurcell
Excellent book with very good narration. Good insights into the casualties and destruction for the citizens of Normandy. They paid a horrific price, particularly in the Caen area for Montgomery's dilatory attitude and execution during this campaign.
LibraryThing member johnwbeha
Wow! This was a long hard read. Not because the writing or the language was difficult, they were, in fact a model of clarity. Beevor has the gift of melding the general story with minute personal details, some humorous, some deeply moving. The exceptional quality of the writing made me want to read every word and this, coupled with a frequent need to refer to the maps to understand who was doing what when to who explains the length of time I spent on this book. It is essentially a story of sacrifice, of young servicemen and of civilians. He uses the phrase "the martyrdom of Normandy" and made me realise the scale of it. I had some idea from my visit to the wonderful Memorial museum near Caen where that city's devastation made starkly clear, but this book points up the scale of the sacrifice made by the people of Normandy.
One of the reasons I added it to my to-read list was that I read a great book earlier this year about Operation Fortitude, the great deception about the site and timing of the invasion. This book tells us how successful that deception was, even after D-Day itself. Just to extend the links I was led to the aforesaid book by the Connie Willis epic double volumes of "Blackout" and "All Clear"
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LibraryThing member jamespurcell
Excellent book with very good narration. Good insights into the casualties and destruction for the citizens of Normandy. They paid a horrific price, particularly in the Caen area for Montgomery's dilatory attitude and execution during this campaign.
LibraryThing member RobertP
Probably best short description of the Normandy Campaign that I have read. It integrates the suffering of the French, which is good to see. As a Canadian, I believe he under-researched the Canadian contribution, but for all that he was objective. And the boy can write. Well done, a good read.


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