This version of the much-admired The Guns at Last Light (2013) for younger audiences focuses on the drama and the astonishing scale of one of World War II’s pivotal operations: the D-Day invasion.
Having plainly done his research, Atkinson seats readers at secret meetings of the Allied commanders, ejects them with paratroopers over the foggy French countryside, puts them into landing craft to hear soldiers barf and exclaim, and sends them out to die bloodily on beaches wracked with enemy fire. Along the way, he also drops almost-unimaginable numbers: 301,000 Allied vehicles gathered for the invasion, 3,000 tons of maps, nearly 700 GIs killed in a single training exercise. He also provides fascinating sidelights, from the fiendishly clever disinformation campaign preceding the invasion to the contents of K-rations. For all its scope, the story is largely told from the Allied point of view, as most of the German side of the event is confined to a single chapter. Furthermore, all the rest of the war in Europe is likewise squeezed into a chapter around two lengthy congratulatory messages from (then) Gen. Eisenhower.
Within its limits, a grand and historically significant tale told with dash and authority. (maps, charts, lists of major armies and figures, weaponry, personal supplies, timelines, photos) (Nonfiction. 11-13)