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“Stephen E. Ambrose, D-Day”

Written on: 11/06/2012

It could be argued that a partial truth is no truth at all. Not to go into the same detail about all participating nationalities, especially in a book entitled 'D-Day', presents little in the way of context.

If you are an American then, I'm sure you find this book informative, stirring and an affirmation of all you believe is true about that nation and its role in the 2nd World War. If, on the other hand, you're perhaps French, German, Canadian, Polish, British, Russian, etc., then your interest will not be held as keenly by this book. Though, to be fair, he does give a mention regarding two Korean POW's in German uniforms.

I know of Mr Ambrose only from his books and his televised interviews over the years. He appears, and I feel that this book in particular shows, that he has largely set his attitude to the story of the war from anecdotes and Hollywood (as many of us did when younger)He even refers to the film 'The Longest Day' incidentally mentioning that it had been a book first. He has his opinions and holds forth on them using selective evidence to back them up. I feel that this is a job for a commentator rather than a historian.

The book is undoubtedly a cracking read but rather in the way of a novel than a history. If the book had been called 'Omaha' or 'D-Day - A US Perspective' then I may have felt that I knew more precisely what I was about to read. Historical research is about the truth in context and I felt that this element was missing in the book.

The same broad themes can be taken from this work as they can be with many others ie war is horrific in the extreme and is not to be undertaken lightly; men show their true characters in extremis - and the author has certainly gone to great lengths to get these personal accounts in. However, this book would probably have been more rounded if the author had spent time among non-American participants. But then, I suspect, that non-Americans were not his subject nor his intended audience.

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