D-Day 1944

Theodore A. Wilson, ed.

June 6, 1944: the Allies launch the largest combined aerial and amphibious assault in modern history. Taking the Germans by surprise, they storm the heavily fortified defenses at the beachheads along the Normandy coast. The cost in allied lives is enormous (nearly 10,000 lost at Omaha alone), but the long-awaited Second Front is finally opened, marking the beginning of the end for Hitler's Third Reich.

We are still trying to come to grips with the impact of what General Dwight Eisenhower called "this great and noble undertaking." In D-Day 1944 twenty noted authors reassess the meanings and lessons of this monumental event and show why it retains such a prominent place in our national memory.

D-Day 1944 contains essays by the world’s leading scholars on the invasion of France, covering all aspects of the greatest amphibious assault in history, combining new information and scholarship in a highly readable and instructive volume. Recommended without hesitation or qualification.”

—Stephen A. Ambrose, author of Eisenhower and The Great and Noble Undertaking

“Fifty years is a long time in the action-ridden twentieth century and yet D-Day seems as new as yesterday. It is not merely a piece of history, it is unforgettable history. In these thoughtful and eloquent essays, general readers together with veterans and their families—children, grandchildren—will see again what was required during that ‘longest day’ in the lives of tens of thousands of America’s young men.”

—Robert H. Ferrell, editor of The Eisenhower Diaries

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Drawing upon a vast array of newly available archival sources, these authors extend and revise our understanding of coalition warmaking, the controversy over opening the Second Front, the logistics of operations BOLERO and OVERLORD, air and naval operations, small unit training and combat, the unique contributions of "special forces" and of ULTRA and FORTITUDE intelligence, the war zone experience for French civilians, Eisenhower's military and diplomatic leadership, and the comparative performances of the American, British, and Canadian forces in combat.

Combining crisp analysis with provocative insights, D-Day 1944 also features a foreword by prominent historian John Eisenhower, as well as valuable eyewitness commentaries by General Omar Bradley, Vice-Admiral Friedrich Ruge (German Navy), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Don Whitehead, and George Marshall's biographer Forrest Pogue. Together these essays remind us why a half century later D-Day remains one of the true defining moments of this epochal conflict.

About the Author

Theodore A. Wilson, professor of history at the University of Kansas, is author or editor of five other books including The Makers of Modern Diplomacy, World War II: Critical Issues, The Marshall Plan, 1947–1951, and Building Warriors: Selection and Training of U.S. Ground Combat Forces in World War II.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series