Seventy years ago, more than 6000 Allied ships carried more than a million soldiers across the English Channel to a 50-mile-wide strip of the Normandy coast in German-occupied France. It was the greatest sea-borne assault in human history. The code names given to the beaches where the ships landed the soldiers have become immortal: Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and especially Omaha, the scene of almost unimaginable human tragedy. The sea of crosses in the cemetery sitting today atop a bluff overlooking the beaches recalls to us its cost. Most accounts of this epic story begin with the landings on the morning of June 6, 1944. In fact, however, D-Day was the culmination of months and years of planning and intense debate. In the dark days after the evacuation of Dunkirk in the summer of 1940, British officials and, soon enough, their American counterparts, began to consider how, and, where, and especially when, they could re-enter the European Continent in force. The Americans, led by U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, wanted to invade as soon as possible; the British, personified by their redoubtable prime minister, Winston Churchill, were convinced that a premature landing would be disastrous. The often-sharp negotiations between the English-speaking allies led them first to North Africa, then into Sicily, then Italy. Only in the spring of 1943, did the Combined Chiefs of Staff commit themselves to an invasion of northern France. The code name for this invasion was Overlord, but everything that came before, including the landings themselves and the supply system that made it possible for the invaders to stay there, was code-named Neptune. Craig L. Symonds now offers the complete story of this Olympian effort, involving transports, escorts, gunfire support ships, and landing craft of every possible size and function. The obstacles to success were many.
©2014 Craig L. Symonds (P)2014 Audible Inc.
This is not another book on the D-Day landings or on the war in Western Europe. Instead it is largely a book on the planning that went into the D-Day landings. Neptune was the part of the concerted effort that included making sure the effort could deliver the troops to the beaches while Overlord was the part of the effort involved once the troops were ashore and this book spends the majority of its time discussing how the plans were drawn up, why specific decisions were made and how the plans expected the effort to be made. As such it covers a part of the war in Western Europe that I have never seen covered in any real detail in any other book.
Mr Symonds has written a fascinating account of what happened during this planning and covered material that is generally not even mentioned in other books. For example in this book you will find out about how competition for raw materials had an impact on decisions that were made concerning what was to be built, in what order and in what quantities, the source of the friction between the British and US army soldiers stationed in the UK during the troop buildup, some hardly ever seen information about the African-American soldiers station in the UK, a detailed explanation on landing craft and why they were the determining factor in when and how the landings were made, information on the mine sweeping operations preceding the invasion, an explanation of what went wrong with the Mulberry Harbors and much else rarely covered. While the topics may seem boring, the presentation is wonderfully done and there was not a moment in this book when I was not interested in what was being presented. While there is information concerning the war effort after the invasion began, and a detailed description of why the Omaha Beach landings were so difficult, most of this book covers the period from the US entry into the war up until D-Day and that information is full of interesting information and items I have never seen anyplace else.
While most of the book covers the planning and the discussions between the various military and political officials there is also coverage of those items of the landings that were classified as part of Neptune, not Overlord, so there is detailed coverage of the Allied effort to provide battleship and cruiser support for the troops on land at all of the landing beaches and during the attempt to take the harbor at Cherbourg.
As with most books there are some annoying items which should at least be mentioned. In the case of this book they are relatively minor but I feel compelled to at least mention one. Mr Symonds seems to have some difficulty in computing percentages and those incorrect figures are given in this book. For example, an increase from 4 million to 13 million is an increase of 225%, not “more than 300%” as described in the book and there are other similar small mistakes. But the book is so wonderfully written and the material so interesting as background to the better known story of the landings themselves that they should be regarded as barely worth mentioning. Mr Symonds has given the texture of the story that serves to hold the story of the D-Day landings together and make the long lead-up to the invasion more understandable.
Mr Symonds narrates the book and while is delivery is acceptable it is not riveting and I think this book may have been better had a more professional narrator been used. Nevertheless the material in the book is so unique and so interesting that it is easy to ignore that small shortcoming. Highly recommended for those interested in that part of World War II centered on Western Europe.
Informative, readable, inspiring, and simply one of the best books I've ever listened to. Often, books read by their authors are somewhat disappointing, but this one is a notable exception. The author is a professor emeritus at the US Naval Academy with many honors to his credit.The same teaching ability that earned him those many accolades come through in this rendition of a truly outstanding book.
I focus mainly on History, Endurance Sports and Science/Speculative Fiction books.
I did not read the book, but Audible did a great job with this version. For me the best part of this book is that the author and the narrator are able to get past the obvious historical gravitas of this epic, history changing event and systemically and calmly explain the events. This is a factual account of the planning and execution of the largest invasion in history and it is done in a narrative style that is free of opinion and melodrama. This is solid, well written reporting that will leave you on the edge of your seat as you hear this story from an administrative, logistic, strategic and human standpoint.
The men who gave their lives on the Omaha Beach. It is humbling to hear what these men went through. In my opinion, no Hollywood representation can do justice to this factual account of what really happened to the average young man who found themselves on Omaha Beach. By focusing in the facts, instead of coloring it with artistic interpretation, the author lets the listening/reader come to their own conclusions. These men were heroes and we owe our freedom to their actions. This is a narrative approach that puts the emphasis on the actions of the men on the beach, not the artistic impressions of the writer.
I have not but he did a great job. It was be impossible not to show humanity while telling this story. He did it in a manner that did justice to the men involved, and he did so without becoming over wrought, which I think would be easy to do given the subject matter. He remains detached but appropriately emotional.
Movies have been made of this event and I am glad they have been made to honor the men involved. But the reasons why the invasion unfolded and how the military overcame the odds can only be explained in a book that has the time to adequately weave several important stories of planning, logistics and execution.
If you are a fan of military history I think this book be a good addition to your library. If you are even mildly interested in American history this book is a must listen, in my opinion. It provides the detail on a subject that many readers think they knew from movies or TV. The reality of the events are more complicated and heroic than you can imagine. Highly recommend.
There have been many books written on the D-Day invasion but this book manages to add to one's understanding of the event by giving us a detailed and interesting look into the monumental task of building up to it. Not only does the author cover the logistics involved, but also the men behind it all, on all sides, in what seems to be a fair and evenhanded history of events. Well worth the time and highly recommended.
I read. I listen. I rate. And then sometimes I review.
It was a great change of pace to finally get back into reading History books. It has been quite some time and even longer since I last reviewed one so I seem to have lost touch…we’ll try this today anyway.
While listening to the audiobook of Neptune, it struck me that the writing of this book is easily the most lovable thing about this book. It seems to differ from the writing style used in “Napoleon: A Life” by Andrew Roberts (which I am also currently reading) and it is, in its own way, much better. The writing style seems more personal and easier to follow. The author has written (and performed) the book in such a way that it mostly felt like I was listening to a story rather than historical data about a certain event.
At one point in the book, quite early into the book, there is a scene in which Roosevelt is about to give a speech and the author paints such an image of that singular moment that it felt so personal and intense, almost as if I was a part of it. It describes how Roosevelt paced back and forth in his office, revising his speech, and his concentration on making sure his speech was as clear but potent as it could be. The significance of that moment, as I listen to how Roosevelt looks at the speech, crosses out one word, and replaces it with another felt unbelievably real, as if I was in the moment. While “Napoleon” was a compilation of historical data, “Neptune” felt like almost like a personal narrative.
“Neptune” also tends to flow fluidly from one chapter to another. While listening to the book, I wasn’t really ever aware that I’d already finished a chapter and moved on to another. And when I did notice, I realized the author also has a way of ending his chapters is such a way that despite the fact that this book is purely factual, it still makes the reader want to turn the page and find out how the story continues…almost like a cliffhanger. So while listening, these chapter breaks felt more like section breaks and I flew through hours of this audiobook in the span of a week.
What I liked the most about this book, however, is that it focuses on more than one aspect of D-Day as a historical event. It displays the political drama between nations, the military tactics through which such an event was undertaken, and the somewhat personal side of what war was like for the soldiers themselves and the sociopolitical relationships between American and British soldiers.
This is what makes this book a really great educational read. And I think it would be appealing to many audiences, well, many audiences who enjoy non-fiction. If you have a history buff in your family and are looking for a gift this Holiday, I would highly recommend trying this one.
Disclaimer: An audiobook copy of this book was provided by Audible in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by any person, place, or event.
Craig Symonds does an excellent job giving you the big picture and the small details while never bogging down. would recommend to anyone who likes history.
All of Craig Symond's books should be recorded, and he should read them all.
Well written, easy to follow, great book!
Contains much information I have not heard elsewhere, without going overboard and just reciting numbers. Very well written, interesting account of the preparation that began years before, the battle itself, and resulting outcome. Narrator is clear and easy to follow.
Oh wow yes met my expectations and exceeded.
Most memorable bit in the book was our very own hero Monty, being to far up his own arse to be part of the planing of D Day landings.
I thought the narrator delivered it with emotion and understanding of the enormity of the theatre of battle.
Brilliant just Brilliant
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