Monday, 9 May 2011
D-Day by Anthony Beevor
Anthony Beevor is one of a kind. He has the knack for writing historical books without bogging down the reader in needless detail or boring, inconsequential anecdotes. Beevor's writing is entertaining and factual, his subject matter is brutal, tragic and terrible.
As the title suggests the book is all about that pivotal moment in history when the largest invasion fleet in the history of mankind arrived on the shores of Nazi occupied France to fight one of the most brutal and merciless battles of the entire war. The fighting on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches was just the beginning of the battle for Normandy which is clear when you see the book is over 500 pages long. Photographs are included which always helps the reader to visualise what was going on however I feel it is impossible to do so without having been there in person, which I am quite thankful for. One thing that Beevor's books are certainly first class at is showing the world how unspeakably bloody and terrible war is.
Beevor never loses sight of the fact that it is soldiers who win battles, not generals. As a result he always puts the reader down in the front line with the troops. He writes alot of the mutal sufferings of soldiers and civilians alike. He tries to remain impartial; He writes about the massacres and murders carried out by the Nazi SS but also includes accounts of Allied soliders killing unarmed German soliders trying to surrender and even those already taken as prisoners.
The book was fasinating and I'm really glad I read it. I was expecting to read about Nazi atrocities so for me one of the most shocking parts of the book is how many French civilians died at the hands of the Allies as a result of indiscriminate artilliery shelling and bombing. Caen in particular was controversial for being so heavily hit with high explosives for arguably no good reason. Many French people died unnecessarily.
Altogether it was a brilliant read and certainly worth picking up if you have an interest in the Second World War. You won't find better than Anthony Beevor.
Final verdict 4/5