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D-DAY The Oral History

"Intimate and personal accounts, recollections from 80 years ago when, on 6th June 1944, the Allied invasion to reclaim Europe from the Nazis began. The largest combined air and seaborne invasion ever involved over 150,000 Allied troops and became a critical turning point in WWII. From paratroopers to generals, villagers, to the German defenders, and from Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, this is their story."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

As author Garret M. Graff correctly highlights in his introduction to this excellent work, D-Day is an oft-used American expression for the opening day of any major operation or invasion. There have been many D-Days, from Sicily to Panama, from Okinawa to Grenada. History, however, favours one in particular, 6th June 1944 at the launch of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.

The public interest in reading about significant events from modern history when told in the words and from the recollections of those who were there has been demonstrated through similar works about the 9/11 attacks and the Falkland War. As memories of WWII fade and the few become fewer, it is perhaps more important now than ever to understand what it felt like to live through conflicts that would shape world order. Lest we forget, those of us who have known decades of peace have an ever-decreasing opportunity to learn from those few about the stark reality of war.

The story of D-Day has, to some extent, been hijacked by Hollywood. Films and TV series have depicted the invasion, the actions on certain beaches, individual battles and the stories of particular military units – all contributing to a modern-day perception of what happened in 1944. The reality is far more complex.

With contributions including 700 individual Allied and Axis voices from more than a dozen nationalities, D-Day tells us the full story – the planning, the rehearsals, the secrecy and diversions, the equipment, the invasion and the aftermath. It’s all here, and in the words of those who were there.

And, perhaps the greatest lesson from 1944 comes not from the famous, the leaders or the politicians. It comes from the people we don’t know, the men and women we have never previously heard from. They are like us, ordinary men and women, but from that time. It is their stories, in particular, we should heed.

In 1939, a coalition of fascist lead countries – Germany, Italy and Japan – sought world domination and the replacement of global democracy. They nearly succeeded. The world we see today would be a very different one had Operation Overlord failed. Desire for world domination isn’t a concept that has gone away, however; it simply bides its time, waiting for its next opportunity. New threats will appear, of that we can be certain. And when they come, we ignore the lessons of history at our peril.

To quote the words of contributor, Andy Rooney. ‘It was one of the most monumentally unselfish things one group of people ever did for another ... if you think the world selfish and rotten, go to the cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach – see what one group of men did for another on D-Day, June 6th, 1944.’

This is truly an excellent read. Unique, in many ways, and thoroughly recommended.

Matt Johnson

Star Books

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