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D-Day Fortifications in Normandy Paperback – Nov 10 2005
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“This book is really nice and is relevant to military historians, architecture historians, diorama builders, artillery builders and some armor builders... The information is well presented and easy to read. I enjoyed reading this entire book. I would not hesitate to recommend this book.” ―Scott Lodder, Armorama (February 2006)
About the Author
Steven J Zaloga was born in 1952, received his BA in history from Union College and his MA from Columbia University. He has published numerous books and articles dealing with modern military technology, especially armoured vehicle development. His main area of interest is the US Army in the European theater in World War II. He works as an analyst in the aerospace industry and lives in Maryland, USA.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Zaloga begins the volume with a well-written summary of the design and development of the German army and navy coastal defenses in Normandy. He manages to include a number of interesting facts, including nice-to-know items like the cost of construction. The next section deals with the actual defenses in detail, including a table that lists all strongpoints on the five D-Day beaches and another table that lists all artillery units in range of the beaches. Zaloga also provides great detail on the garrison, including mentioning individual German commanders in various bunkers. The final section on the defenses on D-Day, which covers beach-by-beach, is superb. Throughout, the volume is enhanced with an excellent mix of B/W photos from 1944 and modern color photos. Zaloga also provides excellent detailed color maps for each beach sector, which depict all the key German defenses. The color plates are also very good, depicting various types of German coastal bunkers. Overall, this volume delivers a great deal of well-packaged information for its small size.
The only item that I would disagree with is his assessment that, "the German defenses quickly failed when assaulted by Allied forces on D-Day." It is currently in vogue among many military historians to deride fixed fortifications like the Atlantic Wall as a `white elephant,' but this ignores their intended purpose. Although Rommel hoped to defeat the invasion on the beaches, it was the reserve troops who were supposed to deliver the decisive blow; the coastal defenses were merely intended to delay and disrupt the invaders long enough for the German reserves to deploy. As Zaloga notes, thirty Germans in WN 62 on Omaha Beach were able to inflict hundreds of casualties on the US 1st Infantry Division and to hold out for over six hours. In the British sector, the Hillman bunker complex prevented the British from getting into Caen on D-Day. By and large, the German beach defenses did their job admirably, inflicting several thousand casualties on the Allies and preventing the Allies from reaching many of their D-Day objectives. It was the German C2 errors that prevented a rapid and decisive commitment of mobile reserves that led to failure, not the concept of fixed fortifications. Furthermore, critics of the German Atlantic Wall rarely make any effort to suggest plausible alternatives for a resource-strapped Germany in 1944. The German defenses in Normandy were a good example of `economy of force' and not only were they useful on D-Day, but they helped to slow the Allied drive to capture ports like Cherbourg weeks after the invasion.