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This is not another book on the D-Day landings or on the war in Western Europe. Instead it is largely a book on the planning that went into the D-Day landings. Neptune was the part of the concerted effort that included making sure the effort could deliver the troops to the beaches while Overlord was the part of the effort involved once the troops were ashore and this book spends the majority of its time discussing how the plans were drawn up, why specific decisions were made and how the plans expected the effort to be made. As such it covers a part of the war in Western Europe that I have never seen covered in any real detail in any other book.
Mr Symonds has written a fascinating account of what happened during this planning and covered material that is generally not even mentioned in other books. For example in this book you will find out about how competition for raw materials had an impact on decisions that were made concerning what was to be built, in what order and in what quantities, the source of the friction between the British and US army soldiers stationed in the UK during the troop buildup, some hardly ever seen information about the African-American soldiers station in the UK, a detailed explanation on landing craft and why they were the determining factor in when and how the landings were made, information on the mine sweeping operations preceding the invasion, an explanation of what went wrong with the Mulberry Harbors and much else rarely covered. While the topics may seem boring, the presentation is wonderfully done and there was not a moment in this book when I was not interested in what was being presented. While there is information concerning the war effort after the invasion began, and a detailed description of why the Omaha Beach landings were so difficult, most of this book covers the period from the US entry into the war up until D-Day and that information is full of interesting information and items I have never seen anyplace else.
While most of the book covers the planning and the discussions between the various military and political officials there is also coverage of those items of the landings that were classified as part of Neptune, not Overlord, so there is detailed coverage of the Allied effort to provide battleship and cruiser support for the troops on land at all of the landing beaches and during the attempt to take the harbor at Cherbourg.
As with most books there are some annoying items which should at least be mentioned. In the case of this book they are relatively minor but I feel compelled to at least mention one. Mr Symonds seems to have some difficulty in computing percentages and those incorrect figures are given in this book. For example, an increase from 4 million to 13 million is an increase of 225%, not “more than 300%” as described in the book and there are other similar small mistakes. But the book is so wonderfully written and the material so interesting as background to the better known story of the landings themselves that they should be regarded as barely worth mentioning. Mr Symonds has given the texture of the story that serves to hold the story of the D-Day landings together and make the long lead-up to the invasion more understandable.
Mr Symonds narrates the book and while is delivery is acceptable it is not riveting and I think this book may have been better had a more professional narrator been used. Nevertheless the material in the book is so unique and so interesting that it is easy to ignore that small shortcoming. Highly recommended for those interested in that part of World War II centered on Western Europe.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Informative, readable, inspiring, and simply one of the best books I've ever listened to. Often, books read by their authors are somewhat disappointing, but this one is a notable exception. The author is a professor emeritus at the US Naval Academy with many honors to his credit.The same teaching ability that earned him those many accolades come through in this rendition of a truly outstanding book.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Oh wow yes met my expectations and exceeded.
Most memorable bit in the book was our very own hero Monty, being to far up his own arse to be part of the planing of D Day landings.
I thought the narrator delivered it with emotion and understanding of the enormity of the theatre of battle.
Brilliant just Brilliant