D-Day and the Retaking of Europeby James Holland
On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a new history of the momentous Normandy campaign with fresh insights from award-winning historian James Holland
D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the 76 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. The story is a familiar one—and yet, approaching the 75th anniversary of this epochal event, its traditional narrative is still driven by both myth and assumed knowledge that is often incorrect.
In Normandy ‘44, acclaimed WWII historian James Holland has crafted a fresh chronicle that reframes our understanding of D-Day and the Normandy campaign, challenging the accepted views that Germany only lost because of the Allies material advantage; that the U.S. dominated the Allied effort; that air power was of lesser importance than ground power. Drawing on archives and testimonies of eye-witnesses—from foot soldiers, tank men, commanders, fighter pilots, as well as civilians caught in the maelstrom—Holland recreates the brutal campaign that, in terms of daily casualties, was worse than any in World War I. Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery was in charge of Operation OVERLORD, whose main target was Caen, principal city in Normandy where rail, road, and river converged. Its capture took almost six weeks of bitter fighting from the bloody sea landing and chaotic air drop to the slog through the hedgerows and sunken lanes that were Normandy’s landscape. Holland introduces characters such as Sgt. Curtis Curlin of the 2nd Armored Division who ingeniously devised saw-teeth to be added to the fronts of Sherman tanks, and Major General Pete Quesada, Commander of US IX Tactical Air Command, who developed crucial communication techniques between his planes and troops on the ground.
A stirring narrative by a pre-eminent historian, Normandy ‘44 sheds new light on one of history’s most dramatic military engagements and is an invaluable addition to the literature of war.
“Highly detailed . . . The interplay of personal stories with the broader strategic picture makes this book especially illuminating . . . A fascinating must-read for World War II aficionados.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Big Week
“James Holland’s The War in the West is set fair to become one of the truly great multivolume histories of the Second World War.”—Andrew Roberts, New York Times-bestselling author of The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War and Napoleon: A Life
“A fascinating story of how the fortunes of war changed in obvious—and particularly not so obvious—ways.”—Col. Eric M. Walters, Military Review on The Allies Strike Back
“Holland puts the case for Allied technological and military skills as a vital factor in turning the war’s tide . . . Ranks as a towering work of historical research and writing.”—BBC History Magazine on The Allies Strike Back
“This is narrative history as intimate, intricate tapestry . . . Mr. Holland’s success is built in part on an engaging writing style and in part on a genuinely fresh approach to events that have been so often—and apparently definitively—recounted . . . Exceptional . . . Epic.”—Wall Street Journal on The Rise of Germany
“Impeccably researched and superbly written . . . Holland’s fascinating saga offers a mixture of captivating new research and well-considered revisionism.”—Guardian on The Rise of Germany