REFLECTIONS ON D-DAY, JUNE 6, 1944

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The 70th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, has obviously peaked interested in this monumental, historic event. There are two  books I would like to recommend to those who wish to pursue the historic details of this epic event and a third which offers important insight into the citizen soldiers so critical to the ultimate Allied Victory.  Two of these books are by the same author, historian Stephen E. Ambrose.
One of the most definitive and detailed histories of D-Day:  OVERLORD D-DAY AND THE BATTLE FOR NORMANDY by  British Historian Max Hastings, first published in Great Britain  in 1984. Wrote the Englishman, ” Not the least remarkable aspect of the Second World War was the manner in which the United States, which might have been expected to regard the campaign in Europe as a diversion from the struggle against her principal aggressor, Japan, was persuaded to commit her chief strength in the west.  Not only that, but from December 1941 until June, 1944 it was the Americans who were passionately impatient to confront the German Army on the continent while the British, right up until the eve of D-Day, were haunted by the misgivings about doing do.”  “Why are we trying to do this? cried Winston Churchill.”

 

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The author of Eisenhower, Stephen Ambrose,  wrote the quintessential  D-Day history:  D-DAY, JUNE 6, 1944, THE CLIMATIC BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II. First published in 1994 on the 50th anniversary of D-Day.  Dwight Eisenhower, ” The Fury of an aroused democracy.” Eisenhower on Omaha Beach in 1964 on the D-Day 20th Anniversary.  ” But it’s a wonderful thing to remember what those fellows twenty years ago were fighting for and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve  our way of life. Not to conquer any territory, not for any ambitions of our own. But to make sure that Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

imagesHow ordinary enlisted men’s ability to assume leadership turned the tide for the Allies:  Stephen E. Ambrose, CITIZEN SOLDIERS.  First published in 1997.  From the memoir of  Bruce Eggert who rose from private to staff sergeant: ” Not a man among us would want to go through it again, but were all proud of having been so severely tested and found adequate. The only regret is for those of our friends who never returned.”

Any of these volumes would make a wonderful Fathers Day gift for lovers of history. All are still available in hard cover and paperback editions.

 

THE FINAL STORM-JEFF SHAARA

During this week as we reflect upon the 67th anniversary of D-Day I completed the fourth book in Jeff Shaara’s historical novels on World War Two. 

The Final Storm, which has just been released is the story of the War in the Pacific culminating and with the greatest emphasis on the battle for the island of Okinawa. Okinawa was to be the last stepping stone before an invasion of Japan.  The Japanese land invasion was of course preempted by the decision to drop the Atomic Bomb.

Shaara , as always,  magnificently tells his war epochs by placing the reader in the boots of the soldier, slogging through the life and death drama of war.  It would be impossible to put down The Final Storm without the greatest empathy and understanding of the men who gave everything to defeat the Japanese, not only on Okinawa ,but on all of the Japanese held Pacific Islands.   The book also provides dramatic personalized insight into the decision and the actual dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima.

The earlier books in this Shaara collection concern the North Africa Campaign and an introduction to Eisenhower and Rommel in The Rising Tide,  the European Invasion and D-Day in The Steel Wave, and the great march across Europe including the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge in No Less Than Victory.

It would be difficult for anyone with an interest in WWII  to overlook these four volumes.  

Shaara’s portrayal  of the reality of war through  the prism of historical fiction is in my view unequaled.  Then again, having read his father Michael Shaara’s   Killer Angels, you know it is in the genes.

If your interest lies with the Civil War you will want to read Jeff Shaara’s  Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure. Also do not overlook his  great novel on the American Revolution,  Rise to Rebellion.

Here is a promise. After reading a Shaara  novel  you will regard all service men and women with awe, respect and gratitude. An important thought during this period encompassing  Memorial Day, D-Day and the Fourth of July.