Stuart Robertson
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
As a sweeping generalisation most books on war history fall into two broad categories. Those with a larger scope covering the strategic aspects of a campaign or those that deal on a more human personal level of the fighting. In this volume Stuart Robinson has blended the two. I’ll admit I was dubious but the author has blended the two seamlessly and it works very well indeed to produce an informative yet human work.

The subtitle of the book is "The Grand Strategy Of D-Day and the Battle for Normandy and how 21 heroic deeds helped enable victory". The author is a full time battlefield guide and this shows how he treats and describes the ground. He gives one of the clearest accounts of the issues faced by the assaulting troops, and the different approaches by the various nations and their commanders on how to tackle the defences. It is difficult to argue with his conclusions even when paring it back and looking only at casualty figures.

Over the years I have read many of the more popular accounts of the campaign but I could have cheered when the author time after time produced conclusive proof that shatters the popular myths of the timid Canadian/ English operations, as opposed to the dashing Americans saving the day and smashing all comers. Whilst in no way decrying the American contributions (and how could he), Mr Robertson calmly and clearly provides documents and personal accounts from the major players that set the record straight.

The book deals with events chronologically and then seeds the chapters with the accounts of the actions of 21 Victoria Cross or Medal of Honor winners that on occasion influenced various phases of the assault and more importantly the greater Battle for Normandy; for as the author points out the initial lodgement whilst vital, would have been ultimately pointless without out the relentless grind of the subsequent attritional battles in the East which allowed the eventual breakout in the West.

A wonderfully informative book, and a breath of fresh air for those of us tired of the popular narrative which bulldozes over the plain truth.

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