Adventures in Bookland: D-Day: the Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor

It could have gone wrong. Looking back, with the inevitability of hindsight, it seems pre-ordained that the D-Day landings should succeed. But one of the great strengths of Beevor’s book is that it makes it horrifyingly clear how it could have all gone wrong. In particular, the weather might have turned, scattering the invasion fleet, stopping the overflying air cover, and allowing the Germans the window for counter-attack before the beacheads could be established. So much also depended on Hitler’s intransigence, and certainty of his own reading of events. It really all could have gone wrong. If it had, it’s hard to tell when a new invasion would have been attempted. The focus might then have turned to the long, mountainous slog up Italy, while the Red Army advanced from the east. The war would have been even longer and even bloodier than it already was.

Thankfully, it didn’t go wrong. Beevor does an excellent job of balancing the telling of the overall strategic situation with vignettes of battle and the long, bloody grind through the Normandy bocage. Highly recommended.


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