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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugly American Read, Where is Canada and Britain?,
5.0 out of 5 stars The Climatic Battle- And Why,
The reader of "D-Day June 6, 1944" will gain a deeper understanding of how D-Day came about, what it accomplished, what failed and why. There were many things that I had heard of, but this book fits the facts into the overall story. Many of the "German" Army troops defending Fortress Europe were, in fact, Russians, Poles and other "Ost" troops from conquered nations, most of whom were willing to fight only so long as German officers and NCOs were ready to enforce discipline at the point of a gun. Ambrose explains that this amphibious invasion was unprecedented in scope. Many of the technologies on which it relied were being seriously tested for the first time. He proposes that the most decisive Allied bombardment was the Transportation Plan carried out by the Air Forces, which effectively isolated the battle area from German reinforcements by destroying bridges, rail track and rolling stock. He finds this to have been much more effective than the air and naval bombardment which left the bunkers which survive to this day. Many have heard of the involvement of the paratroopers, gliders and those in the amphibious assaults. This book clarifies the role each played in the invasion.
Consistent with the theory that, before the battle is joined, planning is everything and, once it starts, planning means nothing, the early parts of this book concentrate on the plans and preparations for D-Day. Here we read of procurement, training, choice of targets and many other things that go into the planning of an enterprise such as this. Once the troops hit the ground, he focuses on the officers and enlisted men who brought about the success of that and following days though their own initiative and decisions. In this latter part of the book we read of men who rushed bunkers, the dazed, fighting and dead "Germans" they found there, the officers, including the oldest D-Day participant, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who started the war where they were landed, not where they were scheduled to land, and even the civilians who helped one side or the other. In completing the story, Ambrose does not forget the home folks in American and Britain.
Ambrose makes a strong case for the superiority of Allied Men of Arms. I think that many of us have the idea that Germans were the greatest soldiers in the war but that they were overwhelmed by American and Soviet numbers. Ambrose argues against this theory. He makes the case that the average American, Canadian and British enlisted man was a superior fighter to the "Ost" soldiers whom he faced. He points out that the democracies produced armies in which the officers and men could make decisions and adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities. German officers, terrorized by Nazi tyranny, were content to sit until superiors told them what to do. Even when the superiors did make decisions, they often miscalculated. The highly respected Rommel made what was, in Ambrose's mind, a fatal mistake. By putting so much of German effort into the Atlantic War, the Wehrmacht was unable to effectively respond once the Wall was breached, as it was in a day or less. Finally Hitler's own mistakes, primarily based on the belief that the real invasion would come at Pas de Calais, set Germany on the road to defeat and made D-Day, truly, the Climatic Battle of World War II.
Besides his extensive research, Ambrose graces his books with a writing style on a par with a top notch novelist. Through this book the reader will never become bogged down in details nor find his mind drifting. It holds the reader with riveting storytelling and an endless stream of facts which educate, surprise and, on occasion, amuse. For anyone with an interest in World War II, this book is a must.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting material, average implementation.,
By A Customer
This review is from: D-Day: June 6, 1944 -- The Climactic Battle of WWII (Hardcover)After reading Band of Brothers, I came into this book with a confident expectation as to what I'd be reading. In D-Day, as in Band of Brothers, Ambrose did an excellent job of compiling oral testimonies from the soldiers involved, but his implementation is something to be desired. It's really too bad that Ambrose isn't as good of a writer/historian as he is an interviewer.
The book begins through about 100 pages of introductory material which includes a synopsis of the political/war climate, some brief information about the respective commanders, an overview of the planning process, and other miscellany.
This material is quite helpful in setting the background, though Ambrose asserts various things about democracy, totalitarianism, Britain, Nazi High Command, and Nazi strategy which seem questionable in truth (and in some cases, out of context). For example, Ambrose asserts in various ways and in various places that a democracy produces a better soldier than a dictatorship. Whether it is true or not, Ambrose was entirely incapable of proving either in a logical and objective way. He also challenged the commonly held notion that the German Army (in the entire spectrum of WW2) was not as effective as it is commonly believed to have been, despite having a kill ratio of 2 to 1 (his own words). This, too, was an assertion that he wasn't able to argue either way, as he dedicated only a couple sentences in this "persuasion," for what probably could fill an entire book. Unfortunately, this type of thing seems to be a recurring theme whenever Ambrose integrates his opinion.
Overall, he sometimes tries to analyze things and ends up doing a poor job as the assertions are weakly, if it all, supported by argument, and I sometimes got the feeling that he was inappropriately overstepping his bounds in terms of context (surely some of the things he brought to the table deserve a much more exhaustive treatment than he was willing to give).
However, These analyses are few and far between, and the subsequent 400 pages are very interesting and captivating, but that is solely due to the material itself. With laugh-out-loud sentences like, "That someone was spelled i-n-f-a-n-t-r-y," I sometimes thought that if it wasn't for the good testimony, I would surely put this book down in a second. Such is to be expected, I suppose, with the history factory that Ambrose was. He was known put many, many books out in a short amount of time, and one can only expect that they wouldn't be up to the caliber of, say, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, especially since Ambrose doesn't have a gift for prose.
There is also the issue, as other reviewers have mentioned, of whether Ambrose was being too US-centric in his treatment of the history, but that is beyond my knowledge. While this book does give the impression that it was written for US audiences only (bad move for a historian, in my opinion), I didn't get the feeling that the Brits and Canadians were "cheated" in anyway.
1.0 out of 5 stars Good first-hand accounts, highly biased history,
By A Customer
Debate has raged in these reviews over his criticism of the British. The fact is, he treats the Brits unfairly. Anyone who has studied the Normandy campaign knows the British at Caen faced the vast bulk of German armor in Normandy at the time of the landings. This enabled the Americans to break out in the west. In no way does this suggest one nation's contribution was greater than the other.
It is a shame, however, that Ambrose writes with such jingoistic gusto. He covers all the British and Canadian beaches in just one chapter -- nevermind the fact this constitutes three of the five invasion beaches. Mr. Ambrose's assertions that the British were "gutless" insult an entire generation of Britons. Let us not forget: Britain withstood the Nazi onslaught for more than two years by itself. Without Britain, perhaps there would not have been a D-Day. Furthermore, the United Kingdom is the only country to have fought both World Wars in their entirety.
The study of D-Day should include the contribution of all participants. This is far from the definitive account of that glorious day. For a more all-inclusive read, check out "Six Armies in Normandy."
5.0 out of 5 stars a learning experience,
This review is from: D-Day: June 6, 1944 -- The Climactic Battle of WWII (Hardcover)I couldn't put this book down. In recent years I have gained an interest in World War II and with Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers I had to find out more. Stephen Ambrose went into great detail and helps the reader to understand the size and complexity of such a task. The only negative comment I could have about this book is that is seems to fall short of providing any detailed information or enthusiasm when referring to the landings of the British and Canadians. The landings at both Omaha and Utah were described to the last detail giving the reader a full understanding of how the day unfolded. The landings at Sword, Juno and Gold were left as "They landed and then went inland and made cups of tea". All up a great read and I can't help wondering how blokes as young as 17 could perform with such bravery.
5.0 out of 5 stars a sobering, fascinating testimony to courage,
Reading Stephen Ambrose' "D-Day-6th June 1944" made it even more relevant.
I am no avid reader by any stretch, certainly a 600 page paperback does not elicit huge excitement on my part, but once I started reading this masterpiece, I couldn't put it down.
I felt as if I had personally encountered the murderous savagery of Omaha or Juno beach, or had been with the Rangers at Point du Hoc, or even jumped out of a C47 with the 101st , such is Ambrose' masterful retelling of a day that should live for all time as a testament to the courage, and self sacrifice of the men of the D-Day generation.
I would recommend this book as compulsory reading to anyone with any interest in WWII, or who feels a sense of gratitude to those guys...if you don't feel it now, you certainly will after you have finished.
2.0 out of 5 stars D Day: June 6 1944,
By A Customer
This review is from: D-Day: June 6, 1944 -- The Climactic Battle of WWII (Audio CD)Mr. Ambrose narrated his book with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, his dentures were slipping or something and the whistling and so on resulting are rather distracting. Perhaps to compensate he attacked some words like 'especially,' as ex-specially, to avoid the whistle, which was even more distracting. Ambrose included a lot of first rate research in this effort, but it is padded with a certain amount of formulaic war book boiler plate. For example there is too much of the superlative; we know it was a big event, we do not need to be reminded in every description that the tonnage, air bombardment, etc., were the greatest in all recorded history. Similarly there is a certain amount of dogmatic expression of respect. He argues briefly to take exception to the critics who say that the American fighting man in this war was not the equal of the German. But the argument sheds no light, and does not include statistics or examples, or even reference to the specific viewpoints he opposes.
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 PLUS,
Dr. Michael L. Johnson author of "What Do You Do When the Medications Don't Work?--A Non-Drug Treatment of Dizziness, Migraine Headaches, Fibromyalgia, and Other Chronic Conditions".
2.0 out of 5 stars Canada, Britain, and the Commonwealth: Buy a different book,
By A Customer
Ambrose refers to George VI as "the king of England". That would make perfect sense if D-Day had occurred on June 6, 1544. His guy supposedly attended a graduate school?
Get a book by an unbiased UK author instead.
3.0 out of 5 stars biased,
Where he falls short, however, is to the uneducated reader where one may believe that the Second World War was a sole undertaking by the United States.
"D-Day" is a case in point. There is little mention of allied forces (which is okay, Ambrose is an American historian afterall)but his opinions regarding Britains Montgomery are disparaging to say the least. There is only one chapter apiece given to the beaches that American forces didn't participate in; Sword, Gold and Juno, and little mentioned about Britains airborne troops.
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D-Day: June 6, 1944 -- The Climactic Battle of WWII by Stephen E. Ambrose (Hardcover - Jun 6 1994)
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