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The Guns of Normandy: A Soldier's Eye View, France 1944 Paperback – Apr 26 1997

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; Trade pbk. ed. 1997 edition (April 26 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771015038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771015038
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 762 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #128,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“This book may well contain the greatest Canadian memories of World War II.”
–from the Trillium Award jury citation

“A very moving and poignant…account.…George Blackburn’s book is a salute to the human spirit and its ability to rise to the challenges that confront it.”
Vanguard

“Entrancing.…One of the best books to come out of the Second World War.”
Calgary Herald

“George Blackburn…brings us as close as we will ever come to the tension, savagery, and turmoil of the fighting in Normandy half a century ago. The immediacy of Blackburn’s narrative, his empathy with the fighting men, and his professional insight put The Guns of Normandy in a class of its own as a military memoir.”
Quill & Quire

“A finer first-hand account of Canadians at war simply does not exist.”
–Tom Clark, National Editor, BBS-TV

“[Blackburn] provides details so graphic that even the most unmilitary reader can appreciate artillery warfare. The Guns of Normandy is no glorious adventure story. Once into the front lines, war is hell.…Tension overlays every minute of every hour of every day for weeks on end.”
Books in Canada

“A remarkable book.…[It] promises to be definitive about wartime soldiering.”
Toronto Sun

“The finest personal account of the campaign in Northwest Europe written by a Canadian.…His description of what it was like to live through those desperate days…should be read by everyone who thinks that military history is about strategy and the views of generals.”
Canadians Military History

“A war book not to be missed.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Easily the best book yet produced on…the Canadian army’s bloody campaign in Normandy. In terms of describing the nightmare of a massive mechanised war from the ground-level view of somebody who was in the thick of it, it is unique.”
London Free Press


From the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

“This book may well contain the greatest Canadian memories of World War II.”
–from the Trillium Award jury citation

“A very moving and poignant…account.…George Blackburn’s book is a salute to the human spirit and its ability to rise to the challenges that confront it.”
Vanguard

“Entrancing.…One of the best books to come out of the Second World War.”
Calgary Herald

“George Blackburn…brings us as close as we will ever come to the tension, savagery, and turmoil of the fighting in Normandy half a century ago. The immediacy of Blackburn’s narrative, his empathy with the fighting men, and his professional insight put The Guns of Normandy in a class of its own as a military memoir.”
Quill & Quire

“A finer first-hand account of Canadians at war simply does not exist.”
–Tom Clark, National Editor, BBS-TV

“[Blackburn] provides details so graphic that even the most unmilitary reader can appreciate artillery warfare. The Guns of Normandy is no glorious adventure story. Once into the front lines, war is hell.…Tension overlays every minute of every hour of every day for weeks on end.”
Books in Canada

“A remarkable book.…[It] promises to be definitive about wartime soldiering.”
Toronto Sun

“The finest personal account of the campaign in Northwest Europe written by a Canadian.…His description of what it was like to live through those desperate days…should be read by everyone who thinks that military history is about strategy and the views of generals.”
Canadians Military History

“A war book not to be missed.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Easily the best book yet produced on…the Canadian army’s bloody campaign in Normandy. In terms of describing the nightmare of a massive mechanised war from the ground-level view of somebody who was in the thick of it, it is unique.”
London Free Press

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
One of the nice things about reviewing for the Amazon sites, is the wonderful people you "met". Recently, Mark Blackburn, the son of this author, contacted me concerning three books his father wrote. My main focus of interest in history was medieval Scotland and England, with a secondary interest in the War Between the States of the US. Hand me a book on either topic and I am in history maven's haven. Mention WWII - I know the period - but it held a lesser interest to me, so purchases books on the era generally takes second seat. However, Mark interested me in his father's books; they sounded so rich with detail, being a first person account. I was lucky to locate copies of all three books. I truly thank Mark for pointing me in their directions.
I always loved the works of Bruce Catton on the US Civil War, because they were not dates and stale history; he was the master conductor for a time machine. When you read his works, you were there! Few historical writers really reach that depth, and yet still make the history so vital and alive.
I must say George Blackburn is in that league. I am just sorry he stopped writing at these three works; he is a great talent. They came in, and frankly, I was backlogged with review requests so I figured it would be weeks before I could get to them. I picked up this one, just to read a bit to get a feel for his style of writing. FOUR HOURS later, I returned to present day and was shocked so much time had passed. Never have I seen anyone make WWII so alive and accessible...you are there. But it's not just in that time travel feel, where you forget you are reading and experience it - it's his observations that are so incisive that go way beyond other historians of the period.
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Format: Paperback
The familiar French expletive is uttered by the narrator after an exploding shell has spilled ink on the song he's just written for his wife, negating his night's labors but not his determination to rewrite it. It's this sort of touch that separates Blackburn's uncommon account about the common soldier's experience from other books about the Normandy campaign or any other war.
"The Guns of Normandy" describes the two-month mission of the author's regiment in the ferocious and decisive battle for Verrieres Ridge, but it is clear from the outset that the author is on another mission. Like Toni Morrison's narrator in "Beloved," who insists that hers is "not a story to be retold," Blackburn insists that his account, however gripping it may be, is "never, never an adventure story." It is time to salvage this critical moment in history from the dispassionate reconstructions of the academics, from the fanciful fabrications of the "war games" crowd, and even from the fading memories of the participants themselves. The resulting account is at once a powerful tribute to the Canadian 2nd Division's contribution (the victory at Falaise seals the doom of Hitler's forces in the west) and a stirring memorial to the author's comrades. But above all it is an honest portrayal of men engaged in a protracted "real" war, not an in-and-out invasion where the primary focus is on high-tech weaponry and smart bombs.
Blackburn's use of the second-person narrator, in effect, de-emphasizes his own persona and directly engages the reader in the experience-from the undeniable fascination of war to the horrifying spectacle to the depressingly prosaic daily business. The narrator's question before landing in France quickly became my own: Would I be able to stand up in a similar situation?
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Format: Paperback
This is the story of barely two months of the eleven months of brutal combat seen by Canada's 4th Field artillery regiment, and of the infantry units 4th Field supported with astonishing firepower. After several years in England, 4th Field's combat role begins with the regiment's landing in Normandy twenty days after D-Day.
Canadian field artillery during WWII was the best in the world. The guns of every artillery unit in a given battlefield sector were laid out on a grid plan that allowed Forward Observation Officers to call in pinpoint fire from every other regiment as well as their own. The Germans, who considered their's the best, were astounded by the Canadians' ability to rain huge barrages down precisely on target. Post-war German accounts of the fighting here repeatedly mention the dreaded Canadian field artillery. When Canadian infantry companies were being overrun, they often took what cover they could find and called in artillery barrages on their own positions, catching the Germans out in the open and astounded that they would do it.
In some of the fiercest action of WWII the Canadian Army advanced only 30-some miles, but they slugged it out against some of Germany's toughest, most fanatical panzer divisions and battle-hardened infantry. Hitler had ordered them not to give up an inch of ground, and they tried desperately to obey. Nevertheless, the Canadian units drove them into the famous Falaise Pocket from which only remnants of crack German divisions escaped.
One reason why writings by men on these front lines is rare is that few lived to tell about it. Some of the Canadian outfits in this action suffered over 100% casualties. Some replacements who arrived at Blackburn's regiment one evening were wiped out the same night.
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