Even Stalin was awed by D-Day. 'In the whole history of war,' he wrote
to Churchill, 'there has never been such an undertaking.' Those who took
part in the great cross-Channel invasion, whether soldier, sailor or airman,
would never forget the sight. It was by far the largest invasion fleet ever
known. Nor, of course, would the German defenders alerted at the last moment
on the Normandy coasts.
The very scale of the undertaking and the meticulous planning were unprecedented, but although the beachheads were established, it soon became clear that the next stage of the battle would be far more difficult than anyone had imagined. The thick hedgerows of Normandy were ideal for the defender and the Germans, especially the Waffen-SS divisions, fought with cunning and a desperate ferocity. Making use of overlooked or new material from over thirty archives in half a dozen countries, Beevor shows how the British, Canadian and American forces became involved in battles whose savagery was often comparable to the Eastern Front.
Casualties began to mount and so did the tension between the principal commanders on both sides. French civilians, caught in the middle of these battlefields or under Allied bombing, endured terrible suffering. Even the joys of Liberation had their darker side. The war in northern France marked not just a generation but the whole of the post-war world, profoundly influencing relations between America and Europe.
There have been many different books on D-Day and the battle of Normandy, but never one researched quite like this. This is the first major account of D-Day and the battle for Normandy for over twenty years. Antony Beevor, depicting events in a similar way to the preceding volumes of Stalingrad and Berlin the Downfall, shows the true experience of war.