Book Review: Remember D-Day

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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National Geographic, as always, has come out with another excellent book, this one on the World War II Allied invasion of Normandy known as D-Day. Author Ronald J. Drez has filled his book with rare photographs and familiar maps, illustrating the harrowing and horrific challenges faced by the Allied soldiers and commanders in finding a way to pierce Germany's Fortress Europe and turn back the tide of Hitler's Nazi expansion.

The book's foreword is by David Eisenhower, grandson of the famous Dwight D. Eisenhower, planner of the D-Day invasion and later a U.S. president. Thus, the foreword contains some rare insights into the thinking and trepidation that his grandfather felt.

The excellent timeline at the end covers the major events of World War II, including an hour-by-hour chronicle of the events of D-Day. The invasion is covered in excellent detail, including both facts and figures and also details that can't be gotten elsewhere: survivors' accounts of exactly what it was like to be on Omaha Beach or hanging from a bell tower because your parachute got caught on a steeple.

The book also includes some tantalizing other details about non-military aspects of the invasion, such as spying, that might be unfamiliar to many students of the invasion. (Example: Code names of major parts of the invasion appeared as answers in crossword puzzles in a British newspaper in the week leading up to the invasion.)

The most compelling part of the book, of course, is the story of the men who fought that day. Survivors' stories are always more interesting because they tell the human story, the minute-by-minute story, the man-in-the-trenches story. This book follows through on that promise, giving us accounts from German, British, and American soldiers and commanders and the adversity they faced and overcame that day. It's not often in a book like this that you the reader get both sides of the story; yet we have some details from the German point of view. This is the kind of "balanced reporting" that makes the National Geographic products so good.

If the book has one shortcoming, it is that it has too few of the survivor-story element. A companion book, if you will, is National Geographic's Remember Pearl Harbor: Survivor Stories, which was packed with survivor stories, making them the focus of the book, with the attack secondary. This book, Remember D-Day, focuses more on the attack and less on the survivors' stories. I personally would have liked to have seen more survivors' stories included in this book; that is the only suggestion I have for making this book better.

Overall, this book succeeds as a wonderfully detailed introduction to or refresher on the subject of the Normandy invasion, containing perspective, context, and military precision, along with the "human side," stories told by men who lived through the hell they went through.

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