History in Review
|D-Day to Berlin.
By Andrew Williams.
(Hodder & Stoughton Ltd: 2004. Pg. 370.)
ISBN : 0340833963.
Reviewed by Herbert White - January 29, 2007
In 2004, to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, the BBC produced a number of riveting television series. One of these was Andrew Williams' three-part series, D-Day to Berlin. A companion book to this series, by the same name and also written by Andrew Williams was published, and is now available in large print. D-Day to Berlin was written for a general audience and it provides the reader with an unprecedented look at the events that took place from the time of the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy, up through the Allied conquest of Berlin. While many modern movies about the end of World War II give the mistaken impressions that once the beaches were taken, the war ended, this was not the case. The truth is that once the beaches were taken, there were still months of heavy fighting ahead, including the famed, Battle of the Bulge, before the Nazis were conquered.
The information proffered in this book is told from the viewpoint of the British, American, and German soldiers who survived this final chapter of the War in Western Europe. Whenever possible, Williams has allowed them to tell their story, in their own words. This is a concise, yet detailed narrative that provides an overview of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings, as well as the Battle of Normandy itself. Throughout he details not only the military aspects of the fighting, but also the personal encounters between foes, which frequently occurred on a battlefield that shifted quickly and which was, in many ways, as disorganized as the one on which the Battle of Normandy was fought.
From here, Williams moves onto the Battle of the Falasie Pocket, the Battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine River, the battle for Berlin, and all the actions that took place between these named battles. Throughout, Williams, and the soldiers whose words are interwoven into this history, tell the story of not only the battles and military tactics used, but also the more human sides of the war, from how the men felt about what they were being asked to do to how they dealt with the fear and dangers they encountered.
Williams also provides a glimpse at what life was like for the civilians that the soldiers encountered, and how the civilians, on both sides, reacted to the soldiers. He also touches upon some of the more disturbing aspects of the war, offering a graphic and chilling description of what the Allies found when they entered the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, and how they reacted to the horrors they found inside. Bergen-Belsen was the same concentration camp in which Anne Frank died, two weeks before the camp was liberated by the Allies.
D-Day to Berlin is an engaging book that provides an absorbing overview of this momentous period and the final push for victory. It includes several maps and a brief glossary of terms. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in military history, World War II, or who is just looking for an unforgettable book to read.
Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden, by Marshall De Bruhl.
A compelling, and unbiased account of the carpet bombing of Dresden in 1945, that explored why this campaign was so controversial, and how it affected the outcome of the war.
Operation Millennium: "Bomber" Harris's Raid on Cologne, May 1942, by Eric Taylor.
A detailed account of 'Bomber' Harris's May 1942 carpet-bombing raid on Cologne, told from the perspective of the British airmen who carried it out and the citizens of Cologne who lived through it.
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