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THE LONGEST DAY by Cornelius Ryan Kirkus Star



Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1959
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The third survey of the events of June 6, 1944, this covers, necessarily the same basic material as in John Frayne Turner's Invasion '44 (Putnam, P. 241), and David Howarth's D-Day, (McGraw-Hill, P. 161), published earlier this year, in following the time schedule movements and actions of that day. Turner's book stressed the magnitude of the operations and Howarth's dealt more with individual experiences and kept the British well in the foreground. This is based on material solicited from veterans- British, American, Canadian, French and German -- and civilian survivors, and from German war diaries, and Allied reports, and is an attempt, so stated by the author, ""to set the record straight"". Here is the story of Rommel's unfortunate trip to see Hitler; of the reasons for German blindness in not recognizing intercepted messages or even the beginnings of the invasion; of background of Operation Overlord and the mounting of the project; of the happenings in the little Normandy villages just before the first of the drops occurred. And from the paratroopers, to the gliders, to the bombardments, to the many sections of the landings, there is always the sense of racing the clock so that the involved and elaborate timetable could be kept. With this as the setting, the stories of the men take over and prove that their own resourcefulness became their measure of survival; show how they extricated themselves from extraordinary predicaments by adapting and improvising when they became victims of all kinds of errors. On the German side it follows the growing confusion when relayed messages are not believed, impossible orders given and the little that was done was negated by the might of the assembled Allies. A day, whose staggering totals, magnitude of planning, and importance are almost beyond comprehension, is here brought to life through the eyes of those who took part in it and thereby achieves a personal impress. Reader's Digest is to do a two-part condensation and the publisher says, ""...this is one we expect to run with."" Something to keep an eye on -- in spite of.