Book Review: Normandy '44: D-Day and the Battle for France

On my military history book, I’ve not read a James Holland book before this one. Which is quite difficult given how many books he’s written.

Very much a Ronseal book. It covers the planning and build up to D-Day to the to the end of August 1944. Holland’s style seems to be telling the broad story by using the stories of individuals. I can see this being very appealing to people who are very interested in specific actions. I’m really reading this stuff for the broad arcs. Which is a little silly because I did pick a 700-page book on the subject.

Going in I didn’t really know much about Normandy. Primo Victoria, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, and a little from Secondary School history. I didn’t know about the Mulberry harbours, the origins of the Rhino on the front of Shermans, or just how long it took (despite Holland arguing that it was quick if incredibly hard). I did know about Operation Pluto though, as my grandad worked on that.

At certain points had a sort of Organisational Vertigo reading about the logistics of the entire thing. Mindbogglingly complex. Getting that much material and people to the right place at the right time, for the entire campaign.

Finally, I appreciated Hollands repeated attempts to push back at the myths and fetishisation over equipment. I’ve no time for arguing over the armament of tanks is very tedious.

I’ve started reading Summerland by by Hannu Rajaniem so that’s likely to be my next post.