The reader is in safe hands navigating each aspect of this complex campaign — from the glider and parachute drops inland with which it began, to the bloody struggles on Omaha, Utah, Sword, Juno and Gold (the five beaches) and beyond.
He reads the minds of the generals, their tactics, their blunders — on both sides.
And he examines the strategic context — the importance of air power in softening up the enemy and destroying the roads and railways that might otherwise have rushed reinforcements to the front line; the Navy’s role in making the invasion possible in the first place.
Contrary to what I saw in The Longest Day, soldiers didn’t die heroically with a clean bullet through the heart. They were blown apart, burnt to a crisp, driven mad with fear. Chaos reigned. “What an awful waste of life and property,” wrote the nurse Mary Mulry. “And yet there is a feeling of constant... excitement. I should, I know, hate it all... but I must admit to enjoying the excitement.” After reading this book, I know exactly how she felt.