NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Alex Kershaw, author of The Longest Winter and The Liberator, returns with an utterly immersive, adrenaline-driven account of D-Day combat.
“Meet the assaulters: pathfinders plunging from the black, coxswains plowing the whitecaps, bareknuckle Rangers scaling sheer rock . . . Fast-paced and up close, this is history’s greatest story reinvigorated as only Alex Kershaw can.”—Adam Makos, New York Times bestselling author of Spearhead and A Higher Call
Beginning in the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, The First Wave follows the remarkable men who carried out D-Day’s most perilous missions. The charismatic, unforgettable cast includes the first American paratrooper to touch down on Normandy soil; the glider pilot who braved antiaircraft fire to crash-land mere yards from the vital Pegasus Bridge; the brothers who led their troops onto Juno Beach under withering fire; as well as a French commando, returning to his native land, who fought to destroy German strongholds on Sword Beach and beyond. Readers will experience the sheer grit of the Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc and the astonishing courage of the airborne soldiers who captured the Merville Gun Battery in the face of devastating enemy counterattacks. The first to fight when the stakes were highest and the odds longest, these men would determine the fate of the invasion of Hitler’s fortress Europe—and the very history of the twentieth century.
The result is an epic of close combat and extraordinary heroism. It is the capstone Alex Kershaw’s remarkable career, built on his close friendships with D-Day survivors and his intimate understanding of the Normandy battlefield. For the seventy-fifth anniversary, here is a fresh take on World War II's longest day.
Praise for The First Wave:
“Masterful... readers will feel the sting of the cold surf, smell the acrid cordite that hung in the air, and duck the zing of machine-gun bullets whizzing overhead. The First Wave is an absolute triumph.”—James M. Scott, bestselling author of Target Tokyo
“These pages ooze with the unforgettable human drama of history's most consequential invasion.”—John C. McManus, author of The Dead and Those About to Die
In this fast paced tale, historian, biographer, and journalist Kershaw (The Liberator) draws on interviews, military records, and published accounts to relate the early actions by advance invaders and the events of D-Day itself. The main players will not surprise readers familiar with the invasion's story among the well-known people highlighted are Brig. Gen. Teddy Roosevelt, son of the former U.S. president; Maj. John Howard, who led the attack on Pegasus Bridge; Col. James Rudder, leader of the Rangers at Pointe du Hoc; and Brig. Simon Fraser (Lord Lavat), leader of the British commandos. Novelty is provided with some lesser-known stories, such as those of British Sgt. Maj. Stanley Hollis, the only recipient of the Victoria Cross for action on D-Day; Lt. John Spalding and Sgt. Philip Streczyk, who together led the U.S. First Infantry Division off of Omaha Beach. Kershaw is at his evocative best describing the chaos, courage, and carnage of combat, vividly portraying the bravery of the "greatest generation." Even readers well-read on the subject will enjoy this perspective.
Adds Nothing to the Rich History of D-Day
Very disappointed in this nothing-more-than superficial treatment of D-Day and its aftermath. Personal memoirs by amateur authors have been both more educational and entertaining. If the soldiers, airborne, pilots and sailors mailed it in the way Kershaw has in this book, all would have been lost in Normandy.