To remember how D-Day impacted the world we live in today, we are giving you five must-read historical fiction books set in during World War II.
With D-Day’s 75th anniversary this Thursday, June 6th, we at Bookstr would like to recommend three non-fiction books for you to read. From inspiring to harrows, these books will go beyond painting a picture in your mind of what happened that day but instead give you an on the ground look as well as a bird’s eye view of that day in human history.
Image Via The Telegraph
Published September 28th, 2010, this book has renowned historian Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad and The Battle of Arnhem, “presents the first major account in more than twenty years of the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Paris”. It goes beyond D-Day and shows us how important that day was. From the experiences of American, British, Canadian, and German soldiers, as well as the French civilians and resistance groups, this book chronicles “more than thirty archives in six countries”.
Image Via The Boston Globe
The Guardian writes that the book “…moves from the weather drama to surveillance of the assault beaches, to individual accounts of each beach, to the breakout for Paris, the action never lets up,” and highlighted how many perspectives of the same side were shown, such as showing the Germans with “with a proper view of the difference between those who retained a moral sense and those in whom it had long disappeared”.
When asked if any accounts he researched epitomized the Battle for Normandy, Anthony Beever replied to The Telegraph that:
Well, there was a wonderful account from a young anti-tank gun officer in the Warwicks [the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment] which had been captured after trying to engage a German Panzer Division. The Germans treated them terribly well and gave them wine.
2. Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany
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If you want to go further than the liberation of France and instead go from D-Day to all, literally all, that happened after it, then pick up Historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s hefty non-fiction book. Published September 24th, 1998 by Simon & Schuster, this 528 page book will move you through “ordinary men in the U.S. army” continues where Ambrose left off in his #1 bestseller D-Day. Citizen Soldiers, starting from 0001 hours, June 7th, 1944 until the end at 0245 hours, May 7th, 1945, with the allied victory.
Image Via Washington Post
Kirkus Reviews stated that “[w]ith remarkable immediacy and clarity, as though he had trained a telescopic lens on the battlefields, Ambrose offers a stirring portrayal of the terror and courage experienced by men at war” and Publishers Weekly signed off with calling the book “an excellent and engrossing new look at the Normandy invasion”
1. Operation Bodyguard: The History of the Allies’ Disinformation Campaign Against Nazi Germany Before D-Day
Operation Bodyguard: The History of the Allies’ Disinformation Campaign Against Nazi Germany Before D-Day might say exactly what it is about, but few today know the true story.
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Taking a key from the maxim, “He who defends everything, defends nothing,” the Allies hired theater actors to act as troops, created fake radio shatter, fake reports on troop movements, and put General Patton in charge to give this faux army some credibility. Keying in on this fake radio chatter, the Nazis drew their focus away from the Normandy beaches.
As a result, this operation thinned out their troop movements, combined with General Eisenhower ordering the invasion on a day the Nazi believed the Allies wouldn’t attack, was able to give the Allies an edge on that day on the beach.
Image Via History.com
Now, for curiosity’s sake, if you had to pick two books out of this list of three, which would you choose? And what will you be doing to commemorate D-Day?
Featured Image Via BBC
“What a day. Just hell,” Private Terry Parker wrote in his diary seventy-five years ago on D-Day. At the time, it was believed that if a diary fell into enemy hands then it could be used against the British army, ergo it was illegal and discouraged for soldiers to keep and write in a personal diary. Private Terry Parker nonetheless broke the law and wasn’t captured, and we’re lucky for it.
Image Via Daily Mail
Keeping a record of his involvement in the fighting, Private Parker sent letters to his mother and girlfriend, Jess, back home describing his feelings and what was happening not unlike the following extract:
Landing tomorrow and I’m wondering how many on this ship won’t see tomorrow night, I wish it were a month from now, god watch over me.
Terry darling, I’ve been dying to try out this notepaper ever since you bought it for me and here is my chance, wherever you are, when you open this be good and look after yourself, all my love and kisses always, Jess.
Image Via Daily Mail
Now, Christopher Jary has compiled Parker’s writings with several other writing at the time in order to create a comprehensive reading on what happened to those on the British front lines of D-Day in a book entitled D-Day Spearhead Bridgade: The Hampshires, Dorsets & devons on 6th June 1944.
D-Day, what a day. Just hell, too much to write here, heavy casualties.
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Private Parker was a member of the Dorset brigade and had previously fought in Malta and had landed in Sicily, hence why he was chosen for the British front lines.
In an interview conducted by the BBC, Christopher Jary said the Hampshire’s and the Dorset’s were the first British inventory to land and, despite many problems and hardships, they achieved almost all their objectives on D-Day.
Image Via Daily Mail
Fortunately, Parker survived D-Day. He returned to England after being wounded on June 25th. In a true happily ever after, he married Jess in 1946.
The Daily Mail writes that when Britain’s national day of commemoration falls on Wednesday, June 5th. There will be “4,000 military personnel, eleven Royal Naval vessels and 26 RAF aircraft will take part in events in Portsmouth” and “[v]eterans have already set off for France in large numbers to make it to Normandy in time for Thursday’s memorial services.
This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day commemorations.
Featured Image Via Smithsonian Magazine
As we commemorate D-Day, it’s often easy to forget that the invasion was considered a long shot. CNN reminds us that it remains “[t]he largest amphibious (land and water) invasion in history”. Everything had to go off without a hitch. This was the Allies chance to stick it to the Axis forces and land a startling blow to the Nazis.
The fact this operation succeeded at all is amazing, the fact it went off without any major hitch is astonishing. But what was it like down on the ground? What did this future president go through on that day?
Image Via Fineartamerica.com
Starting tomorrow I have a series of trips that will last without interruption from six to ten days. So if you have a lapse in arriving letters, don’t jump at the conclusion that I don’t want to write — I’ll simply have no opportunity to pick up a pen. I’m a bit stymied in my mind as to subjects to write about. So many things are taboo — and the individual with whom you are acquainted (including myself) go along in accustomed ways. Mickey is a jewell. I often wonder how existed without him. Anyway the real purpose of this note was to say I’m well, and love you as much as ever, all the time, day and night. Your picture (in a gilt frame) is directly in front of my desk. I look at you all the time. Another is in my bed room. Loads of love — always.
This transcript of a letter to his wife is thanks to the Wall Street Journal. The vague language, however, is because General Ike wasn’t allowed to give away any war plans—hence why he calls D-Day a “series of trips”. It’s also why he says he’s “stymied” about what to write about.
Most importantly, however, the letter reveals how tense everything really was.
Image Via MilitaryHistoryNow.com
Nazi Germany controlled much of Western Europe, but the Allies wanted to chance that. On June 5th 156,000 Allied forces were to be sent, by ship or plan, over the English Channel to land a strike against the German Army dug in at Normandy, France.
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There was a window of only four days to attack, but the worse came on June 4th. History.com reveals that “[w]hen bad weather hit the channel on June 4, Eisenhower wrestled with the idea of postponing Operation Overlord” given that “[w]eather conditions were predicted to worsen over the next two weeks”.
Stationed at his forward command post at Southwick House in Portsmouth, England, General Eisenhower spoke to a meteorologist. Encyclopedia Britannica writes that Group Captain. James Stagg, a Royal Air Force meteorologist, predicted “a temporary break in the weather might allow the invasion to go ahead on June 6”.
The the Wall Street Journal writes that “Gen. Eisenhower paced the room at length and finally said, ‘O.K.—we’ll go,’ setting in motion an attack that had been in the works for more than a year.”
Meanwhile, the Germans believed that the weather made it impossible for an Allied Invasion. Boy, they got the surprise of a lifetime when Eisenhower ordered 155,000 troops to invade, either by land or by sea.
Image Via The New York Times
The fact is we even have this letter is thanks to the late John S.D. Eisenhower (pictured above), who kept the letter. Fortunately, after John. S. D. Eisenhower’s death in 2013 mean the letter was lost because he sold it to The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum.
Image Via wiesenthal.com
A collector of key documents relating to World War 2, specially the Holocaust, The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum has plans to put the letter on display for the 75th anniversary of D-Day this Thursday, June 6th 2019.
Image Via The Eisenhower Encyclopedia
On a personal note I find it amazing and touching how, in those crowded hours, Eisenhower managed to tell Mamie, “I’m well, and love you as much as ever, all the time, day and night…I look at you all the time.”
Featured Image Via History.com