On this day in 1944, some 156,000 Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches and turned the tide of the Second World War. D-Day and the battles that followed led to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s grasp, and less than one year later the war in Europe was over and Allied victory was declared.
We’re fortunate to have many books on the events surrounding D-Day, written by our own talented authors and those of our distributed clients. Below, you’ll find a just few examples of these captivating stories. One is a new paperback edition of a classic account of D-Day told through firsthand accounts, which vividly bring to life the bravery and skill of the young men called to fight to liberate Europe. Another explores the importance of leadership in pivotal moments in warfare, with an aim of providing readers with the tools to become leadership experts in their own lives. A third book in this list juxtaposes historical Omaha Beach battlefield images with photographs from the present day, where you can still see the damage wrought by history’s largest amphibious operation. The fourth and final book on this list is a collection of portraits of some of the last surviving Normandy veterans. Keep reading to learn more about these important books.
Voices from D-Day
D-Day – June 6, 1944 – was a pivotal day in human history. This was the great turning point of the Second World War, when the largest armada ever assembled took a third of a million Allied men across the English Channel.
The invasion force of 150,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and many other nations fighting on the Allied side on D-Day under the command of Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery landed on five beaches to spearhead Operation Overlord, the invasion of German-occupied mainland Europe. On Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches they fought through what has been described as ‘the longest day’ against deadly German firepower but many sadly would not live to see the end of the day.
This new paperback edition of a classic account of D-Day told through firsthand accounts brings vividly to life the bravery and skill of the young men called to fight to liberate Europe. For many it was their first experience of combat and it would change their lives for ever. The accounts are taken from letters, diaries and interviews and range from generals and politicians to front-line soldiers and civilians.
The accounts in this book tell the whole story of D-Day from the meticulous planning of the four years following the retreat at Dunkirk, the invasion armada, the fighting on the beaches and the first foothold in France, the hard-fought progress through the ‘bocage’ countryside of Normandy before the German army was surrounded and the Allies could breakout at speed and sweep through France to the German border, not forgetting the role of the home front throughout the campaign.
Even today there are many reminders of D-Day that visitors can see on the beaches of Normandy and in the towns, villages and cemeteries inland.
7 Leadership Lessons of D-Day
The odds were against the Allies on June 6, 1944. The task ahead of the paratroopers who jumped over Normandy and the soldiers who waded ashore onto the beaches, all under fire, was colossal. In such circumstances, good leadership can be the defining factor in victory or defeat. This book is about the extraordinary leadership of seven men who led American soldiers on D-Day and the days that followed. Some of them, like Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., and Lieutenant Dick Winters, are well known, while others are barely a footnote in the history books.
All of them made a dramatic difference during Operation Overlord. All understood that they had a mission to accomplish and that if they failed to lead, that mission would fail and more men would die. When things did not go as planned, they took action, adapted and overcame – they were leaders. Leadership was the only ingredient that would get them through the storm of death surrounding them and their men.
This book is not a full history of D-Day, nor does it cover the heroic leadership shown by men in the armies of the Allies or members of the French Resistance who also participated in the Normandy assault and battles for the lodgment areas. It is, however, a primer on how you can lead today, no matter what your occupation or role in life, by learning from the leadership of these seven.
A critical task for every leader is to understand what leadership is. Socrates once said that you cannot understand something unless you can first define it in your own words. This book provides the reader with a means to define leadership by telling seven dramatic, immersive and memorable stories that the reader will never forget.
The Past & Present Series reconstructs historical battles by using photography, juxtaposing modern views with those of the past. It shows how much infastructure has remained and points to the passing nature of things such as outfits, uniforms, and ephemera.
Of the five beaches attacked on 6 June, Omaha saw the sternest fighting. Well-placed defenders on the high ground and extensive beach defenses did their job. On top of this, so much had gone wrong with the first wave: many of the amphibious DD Sherman tanks didn’t reach the beach. They were released from their landing craft too far away where the greater swell swamped them and the troops landing on Omaha missed their firepower. Another problem was that many units landed in the wrong place. Strong tides and winds carried the landing craft off line and led to confusion. Finally, the German emplacements and defenses were well-placed on high ground and the only cover on the beach—the seawall—was over a killing ground. There were 32 fortified areas located between the Vire River and Port-en-Bessin: in all, 12 of these strongpoints were able to direct fire on Omaha Beach. The attacking forces—units of the US 29th and 1st Inf Divs—suffered over 2,000 casualties, many of them drowned during the approach, but led by US Rangers, themselves misplaced (they were the follow-up troops to Rudder’s Rangers who had scaled the Pointe du Hoc) the American troops pushed forward and by nightfall, they had gained hold of the beach and its immediate hinterland. Despite the casualties, 34,000 troops had been landed by the end of the day.
D-Day – The Last of the Liberators
The commemoration of D-Day holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the British people. Each June some of the last remaining veterans make the journey back to Normandy, with its memorials and the spine-tingling tranquility of the war cemeteries, there to remember those who never came home.
D-Day: The Last of the Liberators is a collection of portraits of some of the last surviving Normandy veterans. It records in a unique way the stories of these remarkable individuals and their emotional but dignified return to the locations, in many cases the exact spot, which are tied to their most profound personal memories of the campaign; places where they saw action or were wounded, where they experienced instances of miraculous chance or where they witnessed their friends being taken away from them through the horror of battle.
The significance of these photographs cannot be overlooked. As time takes its toll, fewer and fewer veterans make the journey back to Normandy. The 70th anniversary in 2014 will mark the end of the Normandy Veterans Association. After the commemorations, the association will close its doors; its branches will wrap up and all but the private pilgrimages to the beaches will end, eventually leaving the duty to remember those fallen comrades to their descendants and the wider population of a still grateful nation.
This is not an account of the strategic challenges of carrying out the Normandy landings, nor the story of a battalion or company embroiled in its own struggle for survival. Those accounts exist and their value is enormous. This book is different: it focuses on the individual and is a record of the experience at the most personal level, viewed with the benefit of seven decades of perspective.
These photographs, taken during the 68th and 69th anniversaries, are a record of some of the final visits these brave and dignified men and women will make to the places that imprinted themselves indelibly on their lives.
It makes the link, so easily lost, between the young people who faced those challenges and the individuals they became through those experiences – and who went on to rebuild a shattered world with the conviction that it must never happen again.
The subjects of D-Day: The Last of the Liberators are the representatives of this remarkable generation, their stories told in the accompanying text, but etched on their faces as they are confronted, perhaps for the final time, by stark memories from a haunting past.
These portraits are a thank you to the British veterans of D-Day, because they risked so much to give us the lives and freedom we enjoy today.
For even more books on D-Day and Operation Overlord, visit our website. Select books are 25% off through June 11th!