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Renowned World War Two historian James Holland presents an entirely new perspective on one of the most important moments in recent history. Unflinchingly examining the brutality and violence that characterised the campaign, it's time to draw some radically different conclusions.
D-Day and the 76 days of bitter fighting in Normandy that followed have come to be seen as a defining episode in the Second World War. Its story has been endlessly retold, and yet it remains a narrative burdened by both myth and assumed knowledge.
In this reexamined history, James Holland presents a broader overview, one that challenges much of what we think we know about D-Day and the Normandy campaign. The sheer size and scale of the Allies’ war machine ultimately dominates the strategic, operational and tactical limitations of the German forces.
This was a brutal campaign. In terms of daily casualties, the numbers were worse than for any one battle during the First World War.
What will you learn from Normandy ’44?
1. The truth about D-Day: James unflinchingly examines the brutality and violence that characterized this campaign: the average daily casualty rate of the 77-day campaign was 6,674.
2. The existing mythology: The notion of the invincible, better-equipped Nazi forces is a myth. It’s time to draw some radically different conclusions.
3. Leadership: A new look at the often criticised General Montgomery whose plan was in fact agreed by all concerned.
4. Operational warfare: Since the 1960s, the big books on Normandy have largely left this aspect of war out of the narrative. James Holland rightly brings it back into the light.
5. Tactics: James will argue that the fire-power, resource-heavy approach to war that the Allies undertook was 100% the correct way to go, and explores why.
6. Strategy: The Germans had the ‘freedom of poverty’, a term James coins to illustrate the comparative ease of troop coordination due to their relatively small numbers in the face of larger Allied forces, who equally experienced the ‘constraints of wealth’.
7. Air power: The enormous role of Allied air power has been hugely underplayed in scholarship. From German testimonies, it is the one factor that, above all, they mention in connection with their experiences at the front.
8. Naval power: James dissects the enormous influence of the navy that has often been underappreciated.
9. Terrain: Normandy is a character within itself, with unique terrain that made offensive operations very difficult for both sides.
10. Key eye witnesses: The use of eye witnesses is vital, but where other historians may use many brief testimonies, James uses a selective cast of witnesses to convey the experience of war in greater depth, and, most importantly, to illustrate the bigger picture.