The little-known drama of the last-minute decision to launch the invasion of Normandy—excerpted from the internationally bestselling D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
In D-Day: The Decision to Launch, excerpted from Antony Beevor’s bestselling book D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, readers get the little-known story of how the difficult decision was made to launch the Allied invasion of France on June 6, 1944.
The stakes could not have been higher: if Operation Overlord were to fail, it would be a crushing blow to the Allies, a huge loss of both men and equipment. The decision of when to launch rested with supreme commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, but it hinged on one factor: the weather. If there was too much cloud cover, the Allied bombers wouldn’t be able to provide air support, and if the seas were too rough, the landing craft would be swamped. It fell to one man to predict the weather: Dr. James Stagg, the head of the meteorological team at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force.
This riveting selection from D-Day, praised by Time as “a vibrant work of history that honors the sacrifice of tens of thousands of men and women,” tells the fascinating inside story of one of the most important decisions of World War II.
Beevor has established a solid reputation as a chronicler of WWII's great eastern front battles: Stalingrad and Berlin. In addressing D-Day, he faces much wider competition with historians like Stephen Ambrose and Max Hastings, who also use his method of integrating personal experiences, tactical engagements, operational intentions and strategic plans. Beevor combines extensive archival research with a remarkable sense of the telling anecdote: he quotes, for example, an officer's description of the bloody mass of arms and legs and heads, cremated corpses created by artillery fire as the Germans tried to escape the Allied breakout. He is sharply critical of senior commanders on both sides: Bernard Montgomery's conceit; Adolf Hitler's self-delusion; Dwight Eisenhower's mediocrity. His heroes are the men who took the invasion ashore and carried it forward into Normandy in the teeth of a German defense whose skill and determination deserved a better cause. The result was a battle of attrition: a bloody slog that tested British and American fighting power to the limit but not beyond. Beevor says that it wasn't Allied forces' material superiority but their successful use of combined arms and their high learning curve that were decisive in a victory that shaped postwar Europe. Maps, illus.