Sunday, 4 November 2012

A booklist for the Normandy Campaign 1944

I thought that it would be a good idea to post a booklist of interesting and relevant books. Not that I or you have preconcieved ideas of what actually happened, but I think everyones idea of Arnhem has been influenced by the film ' A bridge too far' , for instance.
One of the reasons why I took to KGN was my preconceptions of what combat in Normandy was like/about. It was also influenced by my listening to conversations of people who have been in combat as well as reading them, about what they saw, heard and did. I haven't actually been in combat, and feel that I could never ask anyone what it was like, as I want to play a game about it and trivialise their and others efforts. A sensitivity that stops me from doing some aspects of modern wargaming. or maybe it is a question of taste and appropriateness.
My vicarious interest would be better served by reading the accounts and interviews of others, with detail and reference provided by those more qualified than me. If I formed an opinion of an author, it would be by placing them in relation to their contempories opinion of their relevance.
To the books themselves in no particular order.
 A very good account of the problems faced by the staff of an Armoured Division to keep it in the field. Personal account with lots of interesting comment and detail.

 My favourite account of life at the tip of the spear, so to speak, of fighting from the beachead to St Lo. A warts and all, honest and compassionate account with all the difficulties faced by a battalion in the field.

 Part of the military/bibliographic industrial complex. Okay, so comprehensive in scope that it can overwhelm with micro detail mixing in with overall breadth and depth. Very good understanding of complex motivations and factors.

One of the few accounts of the fighting out of the beachead by the Americans. Good basis to work from

 Lots of maps and photographs of the struggle around this town, complementary to Balkowski's and John's books.

 The wargamers have managed to creep in and get a book published. All that armour and talent should have won, and the Allies should have lost. I mean SS panzers and Grenadiers against well intentioned and flabby Yanks! No contest. Well, its not like that, as Tsouras manages to twist ever so slightly key pinch points in the Landing and subsequent campaign to get off the beach, that could have spun off into such a different result. The butterfly flaps its wings...nevertheless a good read and an appreciation ofhow close it was.

 How could the US have not lost with all that equipment. The germans were naturally superior etc, the old 'stab in the back' excuse. This puts the whole thing into perspective with an examination of what the US troops were actually doing, which was getting better, adapting, and using equipment and strengths to best effect. Essentially becoming the equivalent of the Germans of 1940/41 in the use and exploitation of troops and tactics.

 Not really got a formed opinion of this, but really more an account of the role of the GI

 The Holy Bible of men in combat, shot down in flames by modern analysis of the sources quoted in it of the justification of its conclusions. Basically he faked the sources, but the problem is that almost everyone agrees with the conclusions to a greater or lesser degree. A damn good read nonetheless, with pithy and relevant conclusions. My prejudices showing through I feel.

 If that was the Holy Bible of men in combat, D'este has written the Holy Bible of the Normandy campaign. Excellently researched and written big picture story that keeps hold of you right to the end. You have to get this one if nothing else.

 How does a battalion of US line infantry hold off an SS Panzer grenadier Division, this book will tell you how. Top quality material, with big and small picture combined, but not getting in the way of each other.

 The gospel according to the Sainted Montgomery. A vanilla account that seems to pour sugared cream over the whole campaign essentially claiming that Monty knew what he was doing all along. It ignores errors in the planning and execution of the landings, errors in strategic direction and operation. Basically,it all went to shit after the landing, and Monty struggled to cope with the german reaction, but succeed in the end he did. But not by design as claimed by Belchem and Monty.

 Pure Gold,but then you probably know this. The german containment, its failure and the retreat back to the seine, in pictures then and now.

 The iconic Wittman on the front tells you that you are going to get what it says on the tin. You do, in spades. Excellent .

Well, a sample of my collection of books, that are worth getting hold of, in second hand book shops, or from a well known purveyor of books on the internet. 

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