• Sand and Steel

  • The D-Day Invasion and the Liberation of France
  • By: Peter Caddick-Adams
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 37 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (39 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Peter Caddick-Adams' account of the Allied invasion of France in June 1944 matches the monumental achievement of his book on the Battle of the Bulge, Snow and Steel, which Richard Overy has called the "standard history of this climactic confrontation in the West". Sand and Steel gives us D-Day, arguably the greatest and most consequential military operation of modern times, beginning with the years of painstaking and costly preparation, through to the pitched battles fought along France's northern coast, from Omaha Beach to the Falaise and the push east to Strasbourg.

The Allied invasion of Europe involved mind-boggling logistics, including orchestrating the largest flotilla of ships ever assembled. Its strategic and psychological demands stretched the Allies to their limits, testing the strengths of the bonds of Anglo-American leadership. Drawing on firsthand battlefield research, personal testimony and interviews, and a commanding grasp of all the archives and literature, Caddick-Adams' gripping book, published on the 75th anniversary of the events, does Operations Overlord and Neptune full justice.

©2019 Peter Caddick-Adams (P)2021 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Details, details, details

The story of the D-Day landings is probably among the most written about events of the 20th century and what Sand and Steel gives us is a ton of details, most of which are interesting but seemed to me to be of secondary importance As with other books on the subject it covers the long period from the initial troop movements to Great Britain up to and including the actual landings themselves and covers some subjects not often covered otherwise.

Each chapter is filled with the experiences of some of the soldiers involved, in some cases so many as to blur the view of what happened, but always interesting. So we hear about what it was like to cross The Atlantic on a troop ship, what training was like in the UK, the strained relationship between US black and white soldiers, life for British civilians during this period and the affect of having relatively highly paid US soldiers stationed in a country barely able to get along due to wartime rationing, the weather, the crossing to France and the landings. Much of this has been covered in other books on the period but the section on the experiences of black soldiers in Great Britain has rarely been mentioned in what I have read before and what is covered in the book is in greater detail than I have ever seen before.

Here we not only read about Eisenhower's chief meteorologist Group Captain Stagg, but also about his subordinates and the German meteorologist as well. Here we not only read about Rommel and the construction of the Atlantic Wall, but also about the mix of different arms from different countries with different ammunition requirements and the efforts of the French population to slow down and sabotage the construction. Here we read about not only the French resistance but also about the successful German attempts to infiltrate the resistance and what they learned. And most of all we read about the landings themselves, in far too much detail to follow without either a thorough knowledge of the beaches themselves or a decent set of maps. The sections on the landings, at more than 12 hours, cover each section of each beach and left me understanding little of the geography involved but with the understanding that none of the beaches was a "cake walk". The audio version of the author's other book on the war, Snow and Steel, includes a download with maps but this one does not and is in great need of one.

The narration is absolutely first class and I never tired of it during the entire 37+ hours of the book, but I think that, as interesting as the book itself is, it would have benefitted from some editing to shorten some sections. I can only give a qualified recommendation and suggest that anyone not completely familiar with the Normandy coast area get a detailed map if they want to follow what is covered in the last 3rd of the book. While I would have given this book 4 stars if it had maps I only feel able to give it 3 stars due to the lack of those maps. The one thing that the book left me with was the feeling that those who took part in freeing France, Belgium and The Netherlands and defeating Germany were giants in their own way and left me forever grateful for their actions.

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Disappointed

Book presents a lot of detail but attempt to focus on personal experience is full of fodder that makes reading painful. There are much better books on Overload and Neptune history.

2 people found this helpful