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Publisher's Summary

D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the 76 days of bitter fighting in Normandy that followed the Allied landing, have become the defining episode of World War II in the west - the object of books, films, television series, and documentaries. Yet as familiar as it is, as James Holland makes clear in his definitive history, many parts of the OVERLORD campaign, as it was known, are still shrouded in myth and assumed knowledge.  

Drawing freshly on widespread archives and on the testimonies of eye-witnesses, Holland relates the extraordinary planning that made Allied victory in France possible; indeed, the story of how hundreds of thousands of men, and mountains of materiel, were transported across the English Channel, is as dramatic a human achievement as any battlefield exploit. The brutal landings on the five beaches and subsequent battles across the plains and through the lanes and hedgerows of Normandy - a campaign that, in terms of daily casualties, was worse than any in World War I - come vividly to life in conferences where the strategic decisions of Eisenhower, Rommel, Montgomery, and other commanders were made, and through the memories of paratrooper Lieutenant Dick Winters of Easy Company, British corporal and tanker Reg Spittles, Thunderbolt pilot Archie Maltbie, German ordnance officer Hans Heinze, French resistance leader Robert Leblanc, and many others.

For both sides, the challenges were enormous. The Allies confronted a disciplined German army stretched to its limit, which nonetheless caused tactics to be adjusted on the fly. Ultimately ingenuity, determination, and immense materiel strength - delivered with operational brilliance - made the difference. A stirring narrative by a pre-eminent historian, Normandy ‘44 offers important new perspective on one of history’s most dramatic military engagements and is an invaluable addition to the literature of war.

©2019 James Holland (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Normandy '44

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Excellent in every way a must listen

Never boring but still very detailed with so many interesting personal stories while still maintaining the story of the bigger picture. So many books are great at either the bigger picture or the everyday grind of the military personal but this book does such a great job of both and from both sides axis and allied and adds so many other intangibles it keeps you listening. Seriously I would not be surprised if this book ends up a classic. The narrator is soft spoken and it took me a couple chapters to adjust to it but after that I really grew to appreciate it and the narrator does a great job of the voice acting with the different regional accents when necessary.

4 people found this helpful

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outstanding in every way

Magnificent research, writing, and narration. It is the most personal of the many recent books written about the 1939-1945 War in Europe. One can only hope that the final chapter from August 1944 to May 1945 is forthcoming. It is meticulous in its research, beautifully written and the narrator deserves a position in the hall of fame.

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting perspective.

The strength of this book is telling the story from a variety of perspectives. You get the view from the English, Canadian, German and American points of view all in the same book with the views of civilians mixed in as well. The author does a good job of swinging the story from the personal viewpoint of leadership to that of the soldier and airman to the civilian like no other book I have read on the war. The narrator is overly soft-spoken and this book needs to be listened to at a fairly high volume, which was a bit cumbersome, however it is worth the effort.

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Absolutely Excellent

The narration stands second mto none; clearly enuncitated and spoken at a perfect pace. The book has an extraordinary amount of detail of people, places and events; the amount of detail is staggering but if you don't try to remember it all, you will truly enjoy this book

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Whispery narration makes it rough

Great story, very well written and descriptive. The book has good descriptions of weapons and tactics at a unit level.

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Great Book and excellent story. Narration is awful

Book is a great read , detailed , interesting and shows the decision process extremely well. The discussion and consideration technology and the development of the overall strategy again very well done. Highly recommend this book. The narration is awful. The reader shows us he can verbally be very expressive and emotive , but he does not understand when the appropriate moment to use those skills. He loves his own voice so much that he use music like tones merely to hear himself and mostly when it is superfluous . The tonal additions are distracting and off putting. Let the book tell the story. Over dramatizing the narrative is not needed - but it seems to me this point is wasted on the narrator . He loves his tonal emphasis , breathy pronunication and added emionality way too much .

3 people found this helpful

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Detailed account - honest assessment.

A history everyone knows - told not only from the Allied and German perspectives but also from the US, British, Canadian and French perspectives. Lots of shades of gray - not much black and white. Time gives perspective - understanding brings honesty. Excellent book and performance.

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The whole battle with a British Perspective

James Holland is an excellent writer of popular Military history. The war comes alive with his emphasis on personal anecdotes that are used to illustrate his larger points: 1) The British Empire forces were well led and had good equipment and were well organized 2) Germans had little chance by this point in the war, fought well on a tactical level but were strategically and operationally inept. 3 The Americans had amazing arms production 4 Airpower supremacy was a decisive factor. 5 French Resistance: brave but ultimately more of a political rather than particularly militarily useful. 6 Disagreements between British and American leadership have been over-emphasized and the ones that did occur were more often due to personality type conflicts rather than national prejudices There is little emphasis on the landings themselves , with the exception of the airborne paratroopers. Much more on the aftermath . More stories about Brits and Canadians than Americans or Germans. Now, I’m not saying this is unfair or uninteresting, I suspect that’s where Mr. Holland has more of his primary sources. At any rate, well worth a listen. An aside on the narrator, John Sackville. When he started, I felt like he was narrating a sad fantasy story. I didn’t like him at first, and I sped up the playback. But I relaxed, turned the speed back to normal and discovered he was an excellent voice actor who could do many dialects, which is VERY helpful in an audiobook when quoting dialogue.

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Disjointed justification of Monty in France

Normandy ‘44 has two significant problems. First, it is sometimes hard to follow as a listener as the narrative jumps from location to location without clear delineation of the changes. Second, Holland is an insufferable apologist for General Montgomery. He continually goes out of his way to tell the reader why Monty should not be blamed for the poor execution post the D-Day landings of the British forces in the area around Caen. This is contrary to most historians’ viewpoints. Holland justifies Monty’s actions repeatedly making me think he protests too much.

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Excellent All-Around

Can we ever have too many perspectives on the Battle of Normandy? I think not. In this Holland provides a new perspective on a history that is well-known to WWII buffs. Special credit goes to the narrator who can either speak both German and French, or can at least fake it. His pronunciation of words and place-names in both languages is spot-on and makes for a more enjoyable listening experience to me.