cover image Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Battle for France

Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Battle for France

James Holland. Grove Atlantic, $35 (496p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2942-0

This hefty, scrupulously balanced history of the Allied invasion of northern France goes beyond some of the well-known events of D-Day, thanks to Holland’s meticulous research and clear-eyed view of the big picture. Holland (Big Week), a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and prolific military historian, covers the entire 77 days of the bruising fight for Normandy, presenting a unified Allied effort—rather than focusing on the landing at Omaha Beach—with dramatic flair. Extensive use of German sources gives a full picture of the tactical errors and constraints imposed by Hitler on his army commanders and debunks various myths, including the idea that the German defenders at Omaha were elite troops. Holland describes the fighting in terrible, chilling detail, from the landings to the final collapse of the German defense and the Allied dash across northern France in early August. And he clearly defines the context of this extraordinary feat of arms, from the Allies’ air superiority to the self-destructive approach of German counterattacks. Holland also convincingly rebuts previous criticisms of the British and Canadian troops’ progress in fighting toward Caen and argues that superior logistics and materiel made the outcome certain from the first minutes of the battle. This is an excellent and engrossing new look at the Normandy invasion. Agent: Patrick Walsh, PEW Literary. (June)