VOICES OF D-DAY by Ronald J. Drez


The Story of the Allied Invasion Told by Those Who Were There
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 A no-frills oral history of Operation Overlord that, for all its considerable virtues, falls short of the high standard set by other books commemorating the 50th anniversary of the invasion. Drez is assistant director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans, which for more than 10 years has been collecting memoirs from lower-echelon veterans of the Anglo- American and Canadian forces who participated in the mid-1944 invasion of occupied Europe that signaled the beginning of the end for Hitler's Third Reich. He has used excerpts from the biographical material supplied by approximately 150 of the archive's 1,440-odd contributors to stitch together a vivid if limited version of the D-day story. His roster of sources, which encompasses Wehrmacht defenders and members of the French resistance as well as Allied troops, is at least representative, but Drez offers barely enough background information to keep the narrative comprehensible. In their set-piece testimony, the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who assaulted coastal France's strongly fortified beaches (in many cases after rides across the English Channel on landing craft whose violent maneuverings left them seasick) or dropped behind German lines under cover of darkness provide graphic accounts of the horrors experienced by combatants at the sharp end of the bayonet in Normandy. Without a big-picture perspective from Drez, however, readers unfamiliar with events could come away with precious little sense of the occasion that demanded such fearful sacrifices. Nor does the editor offer even a summary briefing on what happened to his valiant subjects in the European theater of operations or elsewhere after their first 24 hours ashore. Affecting reminiscences from the survivors of a famous victory afford a kaleidoscopic first-draft reckoning of its appalling costs.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8071-1902-4
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994