• Normandy '44

  • D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France
  • By: James Holland
  • Narrated by: John Sackville
  • Length: 24 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (403 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the 76 days of bitter fighting in Normandy that followed the Allied landing, have become the defining episode of World War II in the west - the object of books, films, television series, and documentaries. Yet as familiar as it is, as James Holland makes clear in his definitive history, many parts of the OVERLORD campaign, as it was known, are still shrouded in myth and assumed knowledge.  

Drawing freshly on widespread archives and on the testimonies of eye-witnesses, Holland relates the extraordinary planning that made Allied victory in France possible; indeed, the story of how hundreds of thousands of men, and mountains of materiel, were transported across the English Channel, is as dramatic a human achievement as any battlefield exploit. The brutal landings on the five beaches and subsequent battles across the plains and through the lanes and hedgerows of Normandy - a campaign that, in terms of daily casualties, was worse than any in World War I - come vividly to life in conferences where the strategic decisions of Eisenhower, Rommel, Montgomery, and other commanders were made, and through the memories of paratrooper Lieutenant Dick Winters of Easy Company, British corporal and tanker Reg Spittles, Thunderbolt pilot Archie Maltbie, German ordnance officer Hans Heinze, French resistance leader Robert Leblanc, and many others.

For both sides, the challenges were enormous. The Allies confronted a disciplined German army stretched to its limit, which nonetheless caused tactics to be adjusted on the fly. Ultimately ingenuity, determination, and immense materiel strength - delivered with operational brilliance - made the difference. A stirring narrative by a pre-eminent historian, Normandy ‘44 offers important new perspective on one of history’s most dramatic military engagements and is an invaluable addition to the literature of war.

©2019 James Holland (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Normandy '44

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  • Overall
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Excellent in every way a must listen

Never boring but still very detailed with so many interesting personal stories while still maintaining the story of the bigger picture. So many books are great at either the bigger picture or the everyday grind of the military personal but this book does such a great job of both and from both sides axis and allied and adds so many other intangibles it keeps you listening. Seriously I would not be surprised if this book ends up a classic.

The narrator is soft spoken and it took me a couple chapters to adjust to it but after that I really grew to appreciate it and the narrator does a great job of the voice acting with the different regional accents when necessary.

13 people found this helpful

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Excellent account of Normandy but be weary...

This is a great start to finish of the Normandy campaign. Deeply flushed out and detailed and told excellently. However, and it’s a BIG however, the author is British. As such, like every Normandy conversation, you have to address Montgomery. This author suffers from trying to hard to excuse and justify Montgomery. Now, do I think people are to hard on Monty? Yes. Do I think this author bent over backward to make him look good? Yes. He literally has nothing negative to say about his conduct of the war other than he was a pompous grump.

That aside. It’s really very good.

10 people found this helpful

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History told from both sides

I have read several WWII books that included the D-Day invasion. This book is different in that it tells the story from both sides. You get to see what is going on behind the front lines on both sides. Great way to read history

7 people found this helpful

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Great Book and excellent story. Narration is awful

Book is a great read , detailed , interesting and shows the decision process extremely well. The discussion and consideration technology and the development of the overall strategy again very well done. Highly recommend this book.
The narration is awful. The reader shows us he can verbally be very expressive and emotive , but he does not understand when the appropriate moment to use those skills. He loves his own voice so much that he use music like tones merely to hear himself and mostly when it is superfluous . The tonal additions are distracting and off putting. Let the book tell the story. Over dramatizing the narrative is not needed - but it seems to me this point is wasted on the narrator . He loves his tonal emphasis , breathy pronunication and added emionality way too much .

6 people found this helpful

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outstanding in every way

Magnificent research, writing, and narration. It is the most personal of the many recent books written about the 1939-1945 War in Europe. One can only hope that the final chapter from August 1944 to May 1945 is forthcoming. It is meticulous in its research, beautifully written and the narrator deserves a position in the hall of fame.

4 people found this helpful

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Whispery narration makes it rough

Great story, very well written and descriptive. The book has good descriptions of weapons and tactics at a unit level.

3 people found this helpful

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Very dry

Author jumps around, hard to follow at times. After the D Day first hand accounts it's all down hill. The narrator after lets the last few works of the sentence fall away, as if he needs to take a breath. It is hard to hear him clearly.

2 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Excellent

The narration stands second mto none; clearly enuncitated and spoken at a perfect pace. The book has an extraordinary amount of detail of people, places and events; the amount of detail is staggering but if you don't try to remember it all, you will truly enjoy this book

2 people found this helpful

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A collection of first person stories from all side

a little lacking on operational details about the Normandy campaign but rich in first person accounts about the experience of soldiers from all ranks and service branches of the US, British, Canadian, and German armies.

1 person found this helpful

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Different aspect to a much documented event

James Holland gives some background to the lead up to D-Day, June 6, 1944, the invasion itself (all well-documented in other books) on American, British, and Canadian beaches then launches into what happened in the next 70+ days as the Americans, British, and Canadians try to ‘breakout’ of the Normandy beachhead. He gives perspective from the generals and Field Marshals down to the individual airman, soldiers, sailors fighting in the whole Normandy battlefield—Allied as well as German. It was brutal fighting over most of those 70+ days and combined daily casualties by Allied and German forces plus French civilians make it as bloody a campaign as any seen in WWII.
I enjoyed it except for one little quirk—as James Holland is a British author, he chose a British narrator to read the book. The narrator pronounces a couple of words throughout the book (infantry, battalion) completely different from any way I’ve heard it pronounced before and I cringed every time. There were a few other odd pronunciations (to my thoroughly American ear) but I could’ve gotten by those by attributing it an English accent—but the number of times ‘infantry’ and ‘battalion’ are used and the completely different way he pronounces those two words just started to drive me batty! But that’s my only criticism and others may not find it so onerous.

1 person found this helpful

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