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Normandy ‘44

D-Day and the Battle for France
Narrated by: John Sackville
Length: 24 hrs and 20 mins
5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.50

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Normandy '44, by James Holland, read by John Sackville. 

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.

  • Drawing on unseen archives and testimonies from around the world.
  • Introducing a cast of eye-witnesses that includes foot soldiers, tank men, fighter pilots and bomber crews, sailors, civilians, resistance fighters and those directing the action.
  • An epic telling that will profoundly recalibrate our understanding of its true place in the tide of human history.
©2019 James Holland (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

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Maps from the book would be extremely helpful

Some errors are obvious e.g DSO is Distinguished Service Order (all Commonwealth forces) not the Distinguished Service Cross (Commonwealth's Navy only and below DSO). John's language mimicry adds to the overall experience.

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  • Ian David Williamson
  • 28-05-2019

New perspectives on D-Day

In this book James Holland reviews another aspect of WWII and sheds new light on a well documented time in our history. The book is interesting as it combines views from the strategic planning level with those of people at the front and, importantly, fills in some of the vast gap in the middle. In this way he gives the reader a much clearer understanding of what took place before, during and after the invasion. One negative, I did have to refer to maps, which I assume are in the book, to ensure I understood the movement on the ground but otherwise it was very enlightening and I recommend it to anyone interested in D-Day.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Ellen
  • 10-06-2019

Wonderful

This is one of the best books of it’s kind that I have listened to. It isn’t a dry, heavy opinionated account of events but one that ties events together, drawing from sources across the land, sea and air forces on both sides of the fight.
It is written in real time, sources and accounts interweave which allows the listener to understand the scope of the whole thing which even all these years later seems like an incredible achievement.
The narration is spot on, it’s easy to listen to John Sackville.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Nautilus
  • 24-06-2019

A fresh look at the Normandy campaign

I found this book immensely gripping giving a different view of the campaign not from any one perspective of the nations involved but an overview of all thing good and bad.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • TERRY O'SHEA
  • 15-07-2019

Outstanding , a must read

I have learnt ,understood, appreciated so much of what happened .Thank you James Holland , brilliantly written and John Sackville so well narrated you held my attention from beginning to end .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • nicholas
  • 13-07-2019

We owe them so much!

Vigorously researched, a strong human element which often allowed the listener to feel they were there.Brutal, relentless so much loss of life by such young men on both sides who often forged strong friendships only to have it destroyed by a bullet or an explosion. These soldiers often saw what only can be described as hell.

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  • Philip Hunt
  • 09-07-2019

Great author, well researched.

Rivelling narrative giving a blow by blow of operation overlord and battle of Normandy. Great!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Cliff
  • 07-07-2019

excellent modern review

should be read by everybody,gives a correct review of the battles,and shows allies in true light.

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  • JJC
  • 23-06-2019

Excellent title and exemplary narration

A real work of excellence in a subject area where one might have thought there was not much more to say. But it provides some properly thought provoking insights into aspects of the conflict that go against much accepted wisdom. Very glad to have listened to this in this anniversary year and recommend it highly. Very well narrated with only occasional and, happily, generally effective use of regional or national accents - which can sometimes be real clunkers when done badly. Very worthwhile listening

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  • Dropshort2000
  • 21-06-2019

Had the potential to be the best book on Normandy!

James Holland has always struck me has a diligent historian, however Normandy '44 had numerous errors, one of which would make me question the accuracy of other parts of the book.

1. Chapter 13, P196 Holland writes '[...] before attacking and capturing Port-en-Bessin to the east of Omaha Beach. This was where the American Mulberry harbour was due to be created.' No it wasn't it was built at the western end of Omaha Beach at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer.

2. Chapter 13, P191 at Ponte du Hoc Holland writes ''[...] Colonel Rudder set up his command post by the smashed concrete of the anti-aircraft casement on the western side of the Pointe's cliffs.' It was on the eastern side, the depression though falling into the sea can clearly be seen and compared to historical photographs.

3. Holland also stated that Support Company of an Infantry Battalion was made up of Royal Engineers, that is not correct, assault pioneers make up Support Company and there may have been Royal Engineers attached.

These three mistakes are minor and are probably due to typos in parts.

4. Chapter 12, P176 Holland writes a passage which is more suited to a Hollywood film and makes me question how a historian could believe it, never mind write it. 'Martin led, and had gone ten paces when he trod on a Schu-mine - an anti-personnel mine that, the moment the pressure was released, burst into the air at knee height, spreading shrapnel and buckshot over a wide area. The key was not to release the pressure.' Utter tripe, no mine functions on pressure release, past or present. Some mines have anti-tamper devices that can work on pressure release but that is not what he said. The Schu-mine is classed as a blast mine, which means it explodes. It is not a bounding mine which leaps into the air and explodes like described. The Schu-mine was a small wooded mine with low metal content. The S-Mine or Bouncing Betty functioned as Holland describes and had a 4 second delay one triggered but it was not pressure release. A simple internet search of both these mines shows the layman what was written is rubbish.

Though this may seem a minor point, because it is fundamentally wrong and is like something Hollywood pedal how do we know other facts are correct? If this account was from veteran a check by James Holland would see that the information was incorrect. There are going to be thousands of people who believe this is how a mine functions and it rubbish.

Very disappointing, because I really enjoyed other parts of the book but had this niggle at the back of my mind that he had made it up too. As a story the book is great and will lead the reader through the campaign using individuals as a handrail. As an factual historical account i have my doubts. A check of the text by another historian would have help and made this one of the Normandy Campaign go to books. However this book will be put with the novels on the book shelf and not serious historical works.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-06-2019

OUTSTANDING

clear and precise , yet written so somebody who knows nothing of d day can appreciate some of what happened there , hard to leave alone once started , a real "page turner" of an audiobook .
Narrator was amazingly clear and lent a measured yet knowledgable tone , a pleasure to listen to

1 of 1 people found this review helpful