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Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day

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A ground-breaking gripping account of the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion told by a symphony of incredible accounts of unknown and unheralded members of the Allied – and Axis – forces by one of the world’s most lively historians. Seventy-five years have passed since D-Day, the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The outcome of the Second World War hung in the balanc A ground-breaking gripping account of the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion told by a symphony of incredible accounts of unknown and unheralded members of the Allied – and Axis – forces by one of the world’s most lively historians. Seventy-five years have passed since D-Day, the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance on that chilly June morning. If Allied forces succeeded in gaining a foothold in northern France, the road to victory would be open. But if the Allies could be driven back into the sea, the invasion would be stalled for years, perhaps forever. An epic battle that involved 156,000 men, 7,000 ships, and 20,000 armored vehicles, the desperate struggle that unfolded on 6 June 1944 was, above all, a story of individual heroics – of men who were driven to keep fighting until the German defenses were smashed and the precarious beachheads secured. This authentic human story – Allied, German, French – has never fully been told. Giles Milton’s bold new history narrates the day’s events through the tales of survivors from all sides: the teenage Allied conscript, the crack German defender, the French resistance fighter. From the military architects at Supreme Headquarters to the young schoolboy in the Wehrmacht’s bunkers, Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die lays bare the absolute terror of those trapped in the front line of Operation Overlord. It also gives voice to those who have hitherto remained unheard – the French butcher’s daughter, the Panzer Commander’s wife, the chauffeur to the General Staff. This vast canvas of human bravado reveals ‘the longest day’ as never before – less as a masterpiece of strategic planning than a day on which thousands of scared young men found themselves staring death in the face. It is drawn in its entirety from the raw, unvarnished experiences of those who were there.


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A ground-breaking gripping account of the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion told by a symphony of incredible accounts of unknown and unheralded members of the Allied – and Axis – forces by one of the world’s most lively historians. Seventy-five years have passed since D-Day, the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The outcome of the Second World War hung in the balanc A ground-breaking gripping account of the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion told by a symphony of incredible accounts of unknown and unheralded members of the Allied – and Axis – forces by one of the world’s most lively historians. Seventy-five years have passed since D-Day, the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance on that chilly June morning. If Allied forces succeeded in gaining a foothold in northern France, the road to victory would be open. But if the Allies could be driven back into the sea, the invasion would be stalled for years, perhaps forever. An epic battle that involved 156,000 men, 7,000 ships, and 20,000 armored vehicles, the desperate struggle that unfolded on 6 June 1944 was, above all, a story of individual heroics – of men who were driven to keep fighting until the German defenses were smashed and the precarious beachheads secured. This authentic human story – Allied, German, French – has never fully been told. Giles Milton’s bold new history narrates the day’s events through the tales of survivors from all sides: the teenage Allied conscript, the crack German defender, the French resistance fighter. From the military architects at Supreme Headquarters to the young schoolboy in the Wehrmacht’s bunkers, Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die lays bare the absolute terror of those trapped in the front line of Operation Overlord. It also gives voice to those who have hitherto remained unheard – the French butcher’s daughter, the Panzer Commander’s wife, the chauffeur to the General Staff. This vast canvas of human bravado reveals ‘the longest day’ as never before – less as a masterpiece of strategic planning than a day on which thousands of scared young men found themselves staring death in the face. It is drawn in its entirety from the raw, unvarnished experiences of those who were there.

30 review for Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I received Advanced Reader's Edition of this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program for an honest review. The story greatest seaborne invasion and one of the greatest airborne operations in history combining to break the Atlantic Wall is known from an overview perspective, but the story of D-Day from a personal perspective really brings home the events of the first 24-hours of D-Day. Giles Milton covers the first 24-hours of the invasion of Western Europe in Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, I received Advanced Reader's Edition of this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program for an honest review. The story greatest seaborne invasion and one of the greatest airborne operations in history combining to break the Atlantic Wall is known from an overview perspective, but the story of D-Day from a personal perspective really brings home the events of the first 24-hours of D-Day. Giles Milton covers the first 24-hours of the invasion of Western Europe in Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day from both the Allied and German sides. Milton sets the “scene” by describing how the Allies planned the invasion and how the German planned to stop them. Once the narrative turns to the invasion, Milton begins following a multitude individuals—some of whom he returns to a few times—over the course of those first pivotal 24 hours. From the Allied (mostly American) paratroopers landing all over the place confusing themselves as well as the Germans to the mistake by the Allied Supreme Command of not properly bombing the beaches and the struggle on Omaha, the things that could have undermined the Allied invasion are brought out and highlighted. However, the successes such as the total surprise of the invasion are also brought to life through many perspectives from the retelling by soldiers. Milton shifts the narrative from West to East in the landing zones to detail the Allied experiences on each as well as South as German defenders and French civilians experienced the firepower of massive invasion, as well chronologically (as well as can be expected) to really bring to the forefront how touch and go that day was. While Milton certainly constructed a very intriguing historical narrative in covering a 24-hour period from the viewpoint of a multitude of eyewitnesses, this was also the book’s downfall. The use of so many eyewitnesses resulted in not really establishing familiarity with those that he returns to over the course of the book. If you are familiar with the film The Longest Day than some of these eyewitnesses will be familiar given the events that Milton chronicles, if not for that I would have gotten lost several times throughout the book. Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day is an ambitious undertaking by Giles Milton that unfortunately does not really come together as a whole. While the use of a multitude of eyewitnesses can be applauded to create the narrative unfortunately it didn’t work out given the large number Milton used.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    My attention was riveted on the title. Frogmen! Spies! Thanks go to Net Galley and Henry Holt for the galley, which I expected to love. Though I am disappointed, I would have been more so had I paid the cover price for this fast-and-loose pop history. The author takes the events surrounding D-Day, the massive attack that turned the tide of World War II, and recounts them from the perspectives of those that were there, both on the Allied side as well as on the Germans’. Though the narrative flows My attention was riveted on the title. Frogmen! Spies! Thanks go to Net Galley and Henry Holt for the galley, which I expected to love. Though I am disappointed, I would have been more so had I paid the cover price for this fast-and-loose pop history. The author takes the events surrounding D-Day, the massive attack that turned the tide of World War II, and recounts them from the perspectives of those that were there, both on the Allied side as well as on the Germans’. Though the narrative flows in a congenial tone, it represents a smallish amount of research stretched and padded, and the result is a smattering of important information that’s already been conveyed in a million other sources, most of which he doesn’t cite, and a great deal of trivial information provided by bystanders, which he does. So there is the research—or mostly, there isn’t. The author draws to some extent upon stories garnered through his German wife’s family, but a lot of it comes across as the sort of long-winded recounting that causes even loving family members to inch toward their coats and make noises about how late it’s getting to be. Long passages of direct quotations pass without a citation, and then later there are citations, but they aren’t well integrated, and almost nothing has more than a single source provided. In other words, it’s sketchy stuff that cannot pass muster. In all fairness, I have to admit that it’s bad luck on the author’s part to have his work released so soon after Spearhead, which is brilliant and meticulously documented. On the other hand, this is no debut, and though I haven’t read the author’s other work, I can’t imagine that he doesn’t know he’s cut corners here. Then there’s the other thing, an elephant in the room that isn’t entirely this author’s fault. Why is it that when a war ends and enmities cool, the folks that are invited back into the fold by the UK and USA are always Caucasians? Brits and Americans wax sentimental now alongside Germans, none of whom belonged to families that liked the Fascists, yet the Japanese fighters of World War II never make it back into the family, so to speak. And in this Milton has a vast amount of company, but this is where it is most obvious, so this is where I’ll mention it. So there it is. It’s for sale now if you still want it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    Next month will be the 75th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy. As with most major historical commemorations people will flock to the beaches off the French coast. In addition, the anniversary has produced a plethora of new books to go with the classic works that have been written in the past, including; Cornelius Ryan’s THE LONGEST DAY, Max Hasting’s OVERLORD, John Keegan’s SIX ARMIES IN NORMANDY, Carlo D’Este’s DECISION IN NORMANDY, Anthony Beevor’s D DAY and Stephen Ambrose’s D DAY Next month will be the 75th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy. As with most major historical commemorations people will flock to the beaches off the French coast. In addition, the anniversary has produced a plethora of new books to go with the classic works that have been written in the past, including; Cornelius Ryan’s THE LONGEST DAY, Max Hasting’s OVERLORD, John Keegan’s SIX ARMIES IN NORMANDY, Carlo D’Este’s DECISION IN NORMANDY, Anthony Beevor’s D DAY and Stephen Ambrose’s D DAY:JUNE 6TH 1944. New books published in the last two months include COUNTDOWN TO D DAY: THE GERMAN PERSPECTIVE by Peter Margaratis, NORMANDY ’44: D DAY AND THE EPIC 77 DAY BATTLE FOR FRANCE by James Holland, SAND AND STEEL: D DAY AND THE LIBERATION OF FRANCE by Peter Caddick-Adams, THE FIRST WAVE:THE D DAY WARRIORS WHO LED THE WAY TO VICTORY IN WORLD WAR II by Alex Kershaw, and SOLDIER, SAILOR, FROGMAN, SPY, AIRMAN, GANGSTER, KILL OR DIE: HOW THE ALLIES WON ON D DAY by Giles Milton. For this review I will focus on Milton’s new narrative. What sets the book apart from the others is that he approaches events from a different perspective by focusing on the stories of survivors from all sides including; a teenage Allied conscript, the crack German defender, and the French resistance fighter among many others. It is important to remember that each book mentioned has made an important contribution to the growing historiography related to the allied landing in June 1944. Milton’s approach is very anecdotal as he introduces numerous characters. Some are important historical figures like General Dwight David Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, General Omar T. Bradley, the most senior American commander at D-Day, and Nazi Field Marshall Erwin Rommel who Hitler placed in charge of preparing and thwarting any allied invasion across the English Channel. The strength of Milton’s book is how he conveys the experiences of allied soldiers who bore the brunt of the carnage and eventual success of the invasion, but also French civilians who were caught in the crossfire between allied bombing and German artillery. In addition, Milton gives voice to many individuals who have not been heard before; the Panzer Commander’s wife, the chauffeur to the General Staff, women who worked in in Southwick, the nerve center for Operation Overlord, and those teenagers forced into service as nurses at Portsmouth caring for German prisoners of war. The narrative explores the difficulties in organizing such a massive undertaking that involved transporting 23 million acres of material across the Atlantic, 6939 vessels including 4000 landing craft, 200,000 service personnel, and close to 10,000 aircraft. Milton has an excellent eye for detail be it weather forecasting, the personalities involved, the strategies employed by both sides, and in particular those stories that we do not necessarily think of when examining the insanity of war. In this case Milton describes the experiences of paratroopers behind German lines who wound up caught in trees serving as a shooting gallery for German snipers, the mission of Howard Vander Beek who commanded an LCC 60, a small boat designed to lead American safely toward the beaches, or Wally Blanchard, an eighteen year old frogman whose job was to defuse the minefield that Rommel’s forces laid in front of Gold beach. Milton’s work is chocked full of stories of heroes, individual acts of courage, and remarkable examples of bravery on the part of allied soldiers as they confronted Rommel’s Atlantic Wall as they hit the beaches and were subject to German artillery and mortars. It was of immense importance that the German guns be knocked out so the landing zones could be built up to support the invasion. Men like James Rudder, and his unit would be successful in knocking out the big German guns situated on top of Pointe du Hoc where six 155mm cannon could lob huge shells a distance of 25,000 meters covering Omaha and Utah beaches. Others include General Norman “Dutch” Cota and Colonel Charles Canham would help break the deadlock that existed on Omaha Beach, or Simon Fraser, a Highland Chief and the 15th Lord Lovat, “the mad bastard” would lead his men to link up with John Howard, an Oxford shire policeman’s unit to save the Benouville Bridge that was a key to allied advance after the landings. The stories that Milton conveys are chilling as events unfolded on June 6th, as death became a game of chance. The author points out that “for most the landings were petrifying, for a few it was intoxicating.” The vivid description of death is difficult to deal with at times and in the end 37,000 allied soldiers died with 209,000 casualties and roughly 17,000 deaths in the air. The German side of the invasion is also covered in detail as Milton introduces the reader to German soldiers like Franz Gockel and Josef Shroder whose weapons would meet the allied invaders. They could not believe the bloodshed they were causing as they were picking off allied soldiers as they hit the beaches. The arrogant and exceptional Panzer Commander Colonel Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski is introduced as he tries to drive a wedge with his tanks as he saw an opening between British troops on Sword Beach and Canadians on Juno. Rommel’s headquarters is also explored in addition to his surprise when the invasion took place - he was visiting his wife in Germany. The disagreements between Nazi higherups, Hitler, and commanders on the ground is related and if they would have been in better sync with each other, the task for allied soldiers would have been much more difficult and the resulting casualty figures much higher. Milton has skillfully woven a very complex narrative that allows the general audience to understand the violence and utter devastation that occurred on June 6th. He has written a remarkable account through the eyes of the participants providing the reader with insights and an experience that is not always conveyed as well by historians. After reading Milton’s account one but one cannot escape the fact of the willingness of so many on both sides to fight to the death. In the end despite the the difficulties involved, the importance of the allied success resulted in ultimate victory against the Nazi war machine.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This was an interesting book, very ambitious in scope. It was fairly inconsistent but overall worth reading. The aspects I enjoyed most were the exciting action scenes. Many of the skirmishes are rendered really well. I also appreciated the inclusion of the German and French civilian perspectives, as I haven't read about that as much. For example, I didn't realize that French coastal towns were bombarded heavily, with the only warning to the residents being air-dropped pamphlets delivered the mor This was an interesting book, very ambitious in scope. It was fairly inconsistent but overall worth reading. The aspects I enjoyed most were the exciting action scenes. Many of the skirmishes are rendered really well. I also appreciated the inclusion of the German and French civilian perspectives, as I haven't read about that as much. For example, I didn't realize that French coastal towns were bombarded heavily, with the only warning to the residents being air-dropped pamphlets delivered the morning of D-Day. The fact that much of the technology fails when needed was also an interesting side to the story. The largest problem was it tried to cover the events from far too many perspectives. We're often introduced to characters with what becomes a tired cliche: "Soldier X found the war much more exciting than his job as back home" only to witness them cut down a moment later. Only a select few characters recur and those parts work the most since I felt more invested in them. I imagine this was intentional to make the deaths more surprising, and I did feel that the overall atmosphere of indiscriminate slaughter was accurate conveyed. Nonetheless, it made it challenging as a narrative. That being said, Milton exercised great editorial restraint in keeping this project to a reasonable page count, and I would recommend it for those who want a different perspective on a much-covered event.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thelma Fountain

    I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. When I picked this book up I was not sure I would get into it because I do not usually read accounts of war battles. I was completely enthralled by this detailed, well researched account of the 24 hours of the D Day invasion. I could not put this book down. I loved how the author told the story of the individual soldiers, sailors and airman who participated in the battle. We learned of the bravery of men that history may have forgotten but they were I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. When I picked this book up I was not sure I would get into it because I do not usually read accounts of war battles. I was completely enthralled by this detailed, well researched account of the 24 hours of the D Day invasion. I could not put this book down. I loved how the author told the story of the individual soldiers, sailors and airman who participated in the battle. We learned of the bravery of men that history may have forgotten but they were such an important part of what happened on that day. I am so glad I received this book. It was an emotional read for me. I did not really anticipate that but I found myself moved to tears a couple of times. I had an uncle who landed on Utah Beach that chapter was especially poignant for me. I never got to meet my uncle because he died in France in the fierce battle for the village of saint Lo before I was born. My family always remembers him. I have heard stories from my mom, aunts and grandparents. I learned so much from this read. I have made the decision that my next beach vacation will be to the beaches at Normandy and a visit to the American cemetery at Colleville sur mer. I highly recommend this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    This is a story of such magnitude that it cannot be contained in one volume and represent all parts of the story equally and yet that is exactly what Giles Milton has done. This is not your typical history book overflowing with mindnumbing facts and figures. Instead, the author has taken this heroic Herculean effort of so many people and countries and made it personal. Every chapter is riddled with stories and actual accounts from the men and women, on both sides of the trenches. What they exper This is a story of such magnitude that it cannot be contained in one volume and represent all parts of the story equally and yet that is exactly what Giles Milton has done. This is not your typical history book overflowing with mindnumbing facts and figures. Instead, the author has taken this heroic Herculean effort of so many people and countries and made it personal. Every chapter is riddled with stories and actual accounts from the men and women, on both sides of the trenches. What they experienced firsthand becomes our shared experience. There is still plenty of gruesome and barbaric warfare and the loss of so many lives is staggering but you can't help yourself from having a better understanding of what happened through these eyewitness accounts. It makes what should be a reading challenge much more readable. You are left in awe of what they accomplished, grateful for your family members who served and hope that never again will so many perish in this way. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    Excellent book. One of the best I've read this year.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Excellent addition to the canon of D-Day books. Scheduled to be published on the 75th anniversary. Well researched and the book includes an excellent bibliography.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    A series of episodes mesh together effectively to describe the fraught nature of the first twenty-four hours of the D-Day invasion.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick Luciano

    Be prepared to meet a lot of characters. If you like your military history to be about people, and not overburdened with the movements of battalions, corps and divisions, you'll like this book. There's thousands of individual stories that came out of June 6th, 1944. This captures a lot of them. While we all know about the pair of shoes General Rommel picked up for his wife's birthday, I never new that they didn't fit. That little vignette, says a lot about the kind of luck he would have that day Be prepared to meet a lot of characters. If you like your military history to be about people, and not overburdened with the movements of battalions, corps and divisions, you'll like this book. There's thousands of individual stories that came out of June 6th, 1944. This captures a lot of them. While we all know about the pair of shoes General Rommel picked up for his wife's birthday, I never new that they didn't fit. That little vignette, says a lot about the kind of luck he would have that day. Rommel knew what everyone wanted to deny. If the Allies weren't pushed back into the sea immediately, the war would be lost. You can put this book on the shelf between Stephen Ambrose and Cornelius Ryan. I enjoyed it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This book was read as an ARC provided by the publisher, as a First Reads giveaway. The thing that makes this book the most distinctive is also the thing that will either attract droves of new readers to World War II history or drive them bonkers. Maybe both. The format of the book is that it tells the story of June 6, 1944, in a bunch of different places connected to the D-Day invasion. Thus, you find out what Eisenhower and Rommel were doing, but also what a bunch of individual soldiers and sailo This book was read as an ARC provided by the publisher, as a First Reads giveaway. The thing that makes this book the most distinctive is also the thing that will either attract droves of new readers to World War II history or drive them bonkers. Maybe both. The format of the book is that it tells the story of June 6, 1944, in a bunch of different places connected to the D-Day invasion. Thus, you find out what Eisenhower and Rommel were doing, but also what a bunch of individual soldiers and sailors were doing, very specifically, on both sides of the dramatic events of the day. That was wonderfully engrossing, but led to some odd moments, as the author pointed out how different story threads connected at one point or another, as one character was seen from the viewpoint of another, or such things. I will say that this author has some of the longest and strangest book titles I've ever seen. The only flaw to the writing was just how British some of it was, and that became confusing in a few cases involving military terminology. For instance, in various places in the book, Mr. Milton used the term "mortar" to mean two very different things, as if some of the references had been converted to American English and the others had not. Still, the book was very much worth reading, and I plan to track down some of his other work.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    The book covers the first day of the invasion of France by the Allies at the beachheads in Normandy. While there are many excellent histories of those fearful events, “Soldiers, sailors, Frogmen,Spy, Gnagster, Kill or Die” by Giles Milton deserves a read by anyone who loves the history of WW2. Mr. Milton presents the reader with stories of many individuals who were on the beaches that day, Britis, American and German, French civilians all tell riveting stories of courage in the face of unimaginab The book covers the first day of the invasion of France by the Allies at the beachheads in Normandy. While there are many excellent histories of those fearful events, “Soldiers, sailors, Frogmen,Spy, Gnagster, Kill or Die” by Giles Milton deserves a read by anyone who loves the history of WW2. Mr. Milton presents the reader with stories of many individuals who were on the beaches that day, Britis, American and German, French civilians all tell riveting stories of courage in the face of unimaginable danger. As a rule, each chapter is short with continued chapters as the longest day goes from dawn to dark. The chapters are filled with men facing death while showing great courage. The stories of what they saw, felt and did are simply amazing. One can only wonder at the deep well of fortitude within fighters.. The book has very good maps located at the front of the book and a full set of references consulted. It is very well written, composed with a novelist’s touch of pacing and drama. I recommend it highly.

  13. 5 out of 5

    James Crabtree

    In June 1944 the Allies launched Operation Overlord, the invasion of France and the opening of the long-awaited Western Front. Waiting for them were two German armies under command of General Rommel and an incredible assortment of prepared defenses. In this book author Giles Milton takes individual stories of several of the participants, German, American, British, as well as the French civilians caught up in the maelstrom that was D-Day. We are introduced to the commanders trying to figure out w In June 1944 the Allies launched Operation Overlord, the invasion of France and the opening of the long-awaited Western Front. Waiting for them were two German armies under command of General Rommel and an incredible assortment of prepared defenses. In this book author Giles Milton takes individual stories of several of the participants, German, American, British, as well as the French civilians caught up in the maelstrom that was D-Day. We are introduced to the commanders trying to figure out what is going on, to the soldiers caught up in the Hell on the beaches, the determined paratroopers lost somewhere behind enemy lines, the pilots trying to make a difference for those on the ground, and the ordinary Frenchman who wanted to be liberated but not at the cost of his life. These stories are odd, inspiring, poignant, and horrible... occasionally all at the same time. Definitely a new classic on the D-Day landings. This book was provided as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Al

    Built around D-Day, this book focuses primarily on eye-witness accounts from Allied servicemen, some German soldiers' accounts, and occasional French citizen observations. Many of the accounts extend over most of the day--they're the most interesting--and some of them intersect. This all makes for lively reading, more interesting than standard history book exposition. Be prepared for some very graphic details; the accounts don't spare descriptions of the carnage. One takeaway: I hadn't really b Built around D-Day, this book focuses primarily on eye-witness accounts from Allied servicemen, some German soldiers' accounts, and occasional French citizen observations. Many of the accounts extend over most of the day--they're the most interesting--and some of them intersect. This all makes for lively reading, more interesting than standard history book exposition. Be prepared for some very graphic details; the accounts don't spare descriptions of the carnage. One takeaway: I hadn't really been aware of the major differences in the experiences of the landing parties on the four major beaches, Omaha being a total bloodbath. In general, one comes away with a much clearer understanding of what it must have been like to be part of the invasion, whatever part you played.

  15. 4 out of 5

    N

    This is a wonderful history book about the D-Day invasion. It’s reads almost like a novel and is so interesting because of the first hand accounts of survivors from all different walks of life. Their stories begged to be told. Some of them were truly heart wrenching. It was especially interesting to read about some of the true heroes who helped turn the tide of the battles.....these heroes who have never really been acknowledged. I enjoyed reading these various accounts and stepping back into hi This is a wonderful history book about the D-Day invasion. It’s reads almost like a novel and is so interesting because of the first hand accounts of survivors from all different walks of life. Their stories begged to be told. Some of them were truly heart wrenching. It was especially interesting to read about some of the true heroes who helped turn the tide of the battles.....these heroes who have never really been acknowledged. I enjoyed reading these various accounts and stepping back into history. The book was written in a style that made you feel as if you were right there watching things unfold. I plan to read some of the other books written by Giles Milton because of having had the opportunity to read ‘Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die’ as a win from Goodreads Giveaways. Thanks also to Picador/New York and kudos to Giles Milton.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike Bruno

    For those who are intrigued by the events leading up to D-Day as well as the actual invasion of Normandy's beaches, this is an absolute must read. The storming of all five beaches is told in incredible detail, while providing anecdotes from many who survived of others who did not live to tell the tale. The book also has a way of making you want to keep reading as you wonder if the Allied forces - facing near certain death - would somehow be able to capture certain bridges, beachheads, etc. I als For those who are intrigued by the events leading up to D-Day as well as the actual invasion of Normandy's beaches, this is an absolute must read. The storming of all five beaches is told in incredible detail, while providing anecdotes from many who survived of others who did not live to tell the tale. The book also has a way of making you want to keep reading as you wonder if the Allied forces - facing near certain death - would somehow be able to capture certain bridges, beachheads, etc. I also learned a lot about what soldiers endured at the time, whether it be what they hauled around, morphine shots, life in the trenches after the invasion, lack of food/water, and constant shelling and bombardments. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would recommend to anyone who has interest in WWII.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I enjoyed this book so much. Any time I had a spare moment, I picked it up and continued reading. It is hard to believe that most of this took place in the first 24 hours. Both the allies and the German stories were told. The loss of lives, particularly from the allied side was unbelievable. Because my copy of this book was an advance reader's copy, the book was minus maps and photos. Still, one was able to imagine what it must have been like to see all the ships and aircraft stationed in and ar I enjoyed this book so much. Any time I had a spare moment, I picked it up and continued reading. It is hard to believe that most of this took place in the first 24 hours. Both the allies and the German stories were told. The loss of lives, particularly from the allied side was unbelievable. Because my copy of this book was an advance reader's copy, the book was minus maps and photos. Still, one was able to imagine what it must have been like to see all the ships and aircraft stationed in and around England in preparation for the assault on the Germans in Normandy. It gives one great appreciation to all those men and women who took part and those who died particularly in those first 24 hours.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Wimmer

    This book came to us from a Goodreads giveaway, and it was quite good. This history book gave a somewhat complete account of the D Day invasion. There were accounts of military actions on all 5 beaches, Omaha, Gold, Sword, Utah, and Juno. Truely the spirit of battle is told from the Commander's point of view all the way down to the civilian. One interesting aspect of this history book is that it contains a lot of lesser known players, and explains how the battle and war affected them. Full of vi This book came to us from a Goodreads giveaway, and it was quite good. This history book gave a somewhat complete account of the D Day invasion. There were accounts of military actions on all 5 beaches, Omaha, Gold, Sword, Utah, and Juno. Truely the spirit of battle is told from the Commander's point of view all the way down to the civilian. One interesting aspect of this history book is that it contains a lot of lesser known players, and explains how the battle and war affected them. Full of vim and vigor, this book will stand alone in it's powerful testimony , and respect for all who served. Well recommended!

  19. 5 out of 5

    David King

    With a title like this the book better be good, and it does. Milton brings the reader into the D-day invasion by making individual soldiers and sailors very personal and immediate. Milton himself reads the book quite impressively, skillfully varying the energy and pace as the narrative required. My only quibble came when he flashed back to England for Churchill’s announcement of the invasion to Parliament. I wish he had also described Roosevelt’s announcement to the American people. All in all, With a title like this the book better be good, and it does. Milton brings the reader into the D-day invasion by making individual soldiers and sailors very personal and immediate. Milton himself reads the book quite impressively, skillfully varying the energy and pace as the narrative required. My only quibble came when he flashed back to England for Churchill’s announcement of the invasion to Parliament. I wish he had also described Roosevelt’s announcement to the American people. All in all, this is a worthy companion to Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day, and now I want to read or listen to that again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    James

    An ADD account of D-Day. It's like trying to watch TV when someone changes the channel every ten seconds. I realized that, after 200 pp., I couldn't really recall much. Every three pages, we get a new name, a few sentences on who he or she is, and what he or she sees. But there are far, far too many of these. I really wanted to like this and went into it with full enthusiasm, but the attempt to make the book so intense actually makes it less so. It also occurs to me now that the title is marred An ADD account of D-Day. It's like trying to watch TV when someone changes the channel every ten seconds. I realized that, after 200 pp., I couldn't really recall much. Every three pages, we get a new name, a few sentences on who he or she is, and what he or she sees. But there are far, far too many of these. I really wanted to like this and went into it with full enthusiasm, but the attempt to make the book so intense actually makes it less so. It also occurs to me now that the title is marred by the same problem: too much.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The author uses the experiences of a variety of participants in the D-Day invasion to illustrate how difficult the operation was, the toll it took on them and how the success of the operation was almost a matter of luck. Both sides of the conflict are given so you get a more complete picture of the battle. The author uses military jargon but nothing that most readers wouldn't be familiar with. The book is easy to read since the case topic is handled so well and the book is so well written. This The author uses the experiences of a variety of participants in the D-Day invasion to illustrate how difficult the operation was, the toll it took on them and how the success of the operation was almost a matter of luck. Both sides of the conflict are given so you get a more complete picture of the battle. The author uses military jargon but nothing that most readers wouldn't be familiar with. The book is easy to read since the case topic is handled so well and the book is so well written. This book was received as a Goodreads giveaway but that has not influenced my review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This book was a surprisingly good read. I've read other books on D-Day in the past, so I was afraid that I would have "reading fatigue" with this one. However, that was not the case. This particular work is story-driven, focusing on individual servicemen and civilians whose lives would become forever linked to this world-changing event. The writing in the book is excellent, it's definitely accessible to casual readers, but there is enough information to draw in the most knowledgable buffs.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julia Wilson

    There were details in the this book about the 24 hours surrounding D-Day that were new to me. The author obviously interviewed many participants on both sides. It was a little gratuitous at times. Although many women were involved behind the scenes and in the French country surrounding the invasion, their stories were omitted or reduced to 'humorous' interludes. Also, I listened and the author read the book. As is often the case, I think it would have benefited from a professional narrator.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Wolgemuth

    Like one of those puzzles that displays a picture made of ton of little pictures, Milton's (rough and real) account of D-Day is a composite made up of numerous vignettes. While there are more stories and people highlighted from the Allied side, the Axis receives attention too. The effect is profound as the humanity of the battle's participants are recognized and the tragedy of war (even a just war) brought to light.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    *4.5 stars* The "tick-tock" is a minute-by-minute account of the President's day. This is the tick-tock of D-Day, pieced together from different points of view to build one of the very best military histories I've read in the last few years. A sprawling narrative from Britain, the air, the beaches, the German pillboxes, the French coastal towns, and everything in between is swings between dramatic and heartbreaking. This is a superb must-read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    This was a great read from the standpoint of viscerally feeling how awful and traumatic the landings were on D-Day. Where it felt strained and awkward was in the telling of the stories in chronological order. This lent itself to a bit of a disjointed read that did not flow as well as expected. The detail and individual stories were well written and researched and it is only the format that drops it a star in my opinion.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The author has done a great job of presenting D-Day through the eyes of an assortment of different participants. Their feelings/emotions were well displayed in the story. This book gives a new look at a topic that has been written about many times. The story was very insightful and gripping. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. I feel I learned a lot in the process. I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann Otto

    Just when you think you've read about every book on D-Day, Giles Milton comes with a wonderfully written Michael and Jeff Shaara-style nonfiction narrative history. Very detailed, it focuses more on the planning of the event than some other works and provides stories from the voices of those serving on both sides of the conflict and the local citizens whose lives were disrupted by the invasion and aftermath.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ed Skipper

    Outstanding in every way. This book is the very best that I have read about D-Day, it covers all angles and points of view from those that were there. I wish this book was required reading for students a high school, they would learn a lot about the life of so many brave men and women. Thank you to the author and his contributors.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lori Maxey

    The topic of D Day is fascinating and vast. It may just be me, but I found this narrative confusing at times and complex in the area and number of people covered. It makes me want to find a clearer, better book on D Day.

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