A clearly delineated thesis that examines the decisive battles in turning back the Axis powers of World War II.
Using comparative examples of the Union-won battles that shattered the Confederacy in 1864, Brooks (Education and Counseling/Villanova Univ.; Hell Is Upon Us: D-Day in the Pacific, 2005, etc.) finds in the long months of 1944 the important battles that would eventually defeat the Germans and the Japanese in turn, including the iconic Operation Overlord in Normandy and the equally important, less-well-known campaign of arduous Pacific island-hopping to dislodge the Japanese imperial army in the Marianas, Operation Forager. As a historian who delights in relaying his research and expertise, Brooks unravels the story with accessible detail for lay readers so that his work feels less like a history lesson than a suspenseful drama. The squabbles among the top military high command—a wonderful clash of brash male personalities, including that of the president himself—eventually gave way to some sound decisions. In discrete, tidy chapters Brooks takes one chronological portion of the “longest year” and breaks it down: the January attack on “the soft underbelly of Europe” via the Italian beaches at Anzio and Nettuno; the beginning destruction of the German aircraft industry and control of the skies in preparation for Operation Overlord over the “Big Week” of aerial dogfights in February; the “invasion” of the Yanks in Britain in preparation for Overlord and the massive launch in June; and the hugely costly campaigns on the Pacific islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, which were met by the stunning surge of suicidal imperial warriors. While the taking of Paris and “redemption” at Leyte, Philippines, crowned the year, the Germans and Japanese proved they were still not down for the count.
A seasoned historian delivers a fluently readable history.