Normandy '44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France

Normandy '44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France

by James Holland


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D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the seventy-six days of bitter fighting in Normandy that followed the Allied landing, have become the defining episode of World War II in the west—the object of books, films, television series, and documentaries. Yet as familiar as it is, as James Holland makes clear in his definitive history, many parts of the OVERLORD campaign, as it was known, are still shrouded in myth and assumed knowledge.

Drawing freshly on widespread archives and on the testimonies of eye-witnesses, Holland relates the extraordinary planning that made Allied victory in France possible; indeed, the story of how hundreds of thousands of men, and mountains of materiel, were transported across the English Channel, is as dramatic a human achievement as any battlefield exploit. The brutal landings on the five beaches and subsequent battles across the plains and through the lanes and hedgerows of Normandy—a campaign that, in terms of daily casualties, was worse than any in World War I—come vividly to life in conferences where the strategic decisions of Eisenhower, Rommel, Montgomery, and other commanders were made, and through the memories of paratrooper Lieutenant Dick Winters of Easy Company, British corporal and tanker Reg Spittles, Thunderbolt pilot Archie Maltbie, German ordnance officer Hans Heinze, French resistance leader Robert Leblanc, and many others.

For both sides, the challenges were enormous. The Allies confronted a disciplined German army stretched to its limit, which nonetheless caused tactics to be adjusted on the fly. Ultimately ingenuity, determination, and immense materiel strength—delivered with operational brilliance—made the difference. A stirring narrative by a pre-eminent historian, Normandy ‘44 offers important new perspective on one of history’s most dramatic military engagements and is an invaluable addition to the literature of war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802129420
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Pages: 720
Sales rank: 17,346
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

James Holland is the author of Big Week, The Rise of Germany and The Allies Strike Back in the War in the West trilogy, as well as Fortress Malta, Dam Busters, and The Battle of Britain. Holland regularly appears on television and radio and has written and presented the BAFTA shortlisted documentaries Battle of Britain and Dam Busters for the BBC, among others. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has his own collection at the Imperial War Museum.

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

Maps xi

Principal Personalities lii

Gallery of Portraits lvi

Foreword lix

Prologue 1

Part I The Battle Before D-Day

1 The Atlantic Wall 9

2 Command of the Skies 23

3 Understanding Montgomery and the Master Plan 42

4 Countdown 53

5 The Winds of War 66

6 Big War 80

7 Air Power 95

Part II Invasion

8 D-Day Minus One 109

9 D-Day: The First Hours 120

10 D-Day: Dawn 139

11 D-Day: The American Landings 153

12 D-Day: The British and Canadian Landings 168

13 D-Day: The Turning of the Battle 186

14 D-Day: Foothold 202

Part III Attrition

15 Bridgehead 225

16 Fighter-Bomber Racecourse 243

17 Linking Up 254

18 The Constraints of Wealth and the Freedom of Poverty 267

19 Behind the Lines 284

20 The Grinding Battle 294

21 The Great Storm 310

22 EPSOM 326

23 Cherbourg and the Scottish Corridor 343

24 Trouble at the Top 360

25 Bloody Socage 376

26 Living Like Foxes 391

Part IV Breakout

27 A Brief Discourse on Weapons and the Operational Level of War 411

28 Crisis of Command 428


30 Saint-Lô 461

31 COBRA 471


33 LUTTICH 496

34 Tank Battle at Saint-Aignan 507

35 The Corridor of Death 519

Postscript 532

Glossary 541

Appendices 544

Timeline: Normandy 1944 555

Timeline: D-Day 565

Notes 575

Selected Sources 597

Acknowledgements 625

Picture Acknowledgements 629

Index 633

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Normandy '44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Bedford_Bookshelf_1 6 months ago
Filled with spectacular detail, Normandy ’44 offers a comprehensive view of the Normandy Campaign. Rather than focusing on one aspect, such as a day, a beach, a Division, Holland has written a broad narrative of the entire battle for Normandy from the initial planning to the final outcome 77 days later. I devoured this book. It is an historic account that for me reads like a remarkable novel. So detailed, but not so overly academic as to be unreadable by the average student of history. No history of the battle that I have read before has provided such a wide-ranging view and allowed me to discovered so many facts of which I was previously unaware. While conscious of the planning and coordination that had gone into Operation Overlord, I was stunned by the actual logistics required just for the initial days of the invasion. And for all intents and purposes, all the planning went into Overlord and the first few days alone, to the detriment of what was to follow. It was so imperative that the landings succeed that training and planning for the long-term was set aside. The stories of the obscure individuals and groups across the extent of the battle were so fascinating. Stanley Christopherson and the Sherwood Ranger Yeomanry, the Dubosq family, the Bowles brothers, Lieutenant Hans Heinze, they and so many more, captivated me with their ingenuity, their humanity, and their courage. My thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the advance reader copy made available for my review.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I have read a great many books on World War II, both the European campaign including the Normandy invasion and subsequent breakout and the war against Japan in Southeast Asia. Normandy 44 is a big disappointment. While it covers many of the battles there is little continuity to this book’s coverage. There are omissions, some of them major. One of the great deceptions that led to the success of OVERLORD was the use of General Patton’s reputation to make the Germans believe that an assault at the Port of Calais would be led by Patton. Yet Patton is hardly mentioned. The Lieutenant who led the first troops off Normandy likewise is not mentioned. If you are interested in the Normandy story look elsewhere. Len Lindenmeyer
9486052 6 months ago
Holland is an entertaining historian and this book offers a slightly different perspective on D-Day and the aftermath of the invasion of France, but there's nothing really new here if you've read recent and detailed accounts of that period of WWII. He blends individual stories with the big picture, but often loses some of the larger perspective, and readers who know a good deal about the armaments involved may not be happy with some of his descriptions and conclusions. He does emphasize the material and logistical advantages of the Allies (echoing the German perspectives at the time and afterwards), but a significant portion of the book focuses more on the UK contributions than the US role, which is probably understandable given that he's British, but he often gives short shrift to the US role and US equipment (e.g., although the P-47 Thunderbolt's role as a fighter-bomber is noted often, the Hawker Typhoon is given more detailed attention), and he tries to rehabilitate some of Montgomery's shortcomings as a plodding egotistical general in an alliance war. There are annoying small errors that crop up throughout, such as spelling problems (e.g., the British Albemarle transport plane) and missing paragraph tabs, which I attribute to the publisher's proofing and production.