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The classic account of the Allied invasion of NormandyThe Longest Day is Cornelius Ryan s unsurpassed account of D Day, a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history In this compelling tale of courage and heroism, glory and tragedy, Ryan painstakingly recreates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi GermanyThis book, first published in , is a must for anyone who loves history, as well as for anyone who wants to better understand how free nations prevailed at a time when darkness enshrouded the earth After reading The Longest Day it is immediately apparent why my copy of the book has the tagline, The classic epic of D Day printed on the cover In this book, Cornelius Ryan delivers a very human oriented account of D Day.Ryan begins with The Wait that is, he spends a little time describing the build up to the invasion He brings us to the German headquarters, where the discord is rather shocking to the Allied headquarters, where the vagaries of the weather are preying on Eisenhower s mind t After reading The Longest Day it is immediately apparent why my copy of the book has the tagline, The classic epic of D Day printed on the cover In this book, Cornelius Ryan delivers a very human oriented account of D Day.Ryan begins with The Wait that is, he spends a little time describing the build up to the invasion He brings us to the German headquarters, where the discord is rather shocking to the Allied headquarters, where the vagaries of the weather are preying on Eisenhower s mind to the French citizens of Normandy, living their daily routine under the yoke of occupation to the Allied soldiers in England, whittling away the hours by gambling, praying, writing letters to family, and.On midnight, June 6th, Ryan begins the tale of D Day in earnest He skillfully weaves the story of the preparatory airborne operations by drawing on the experiences of French resistance fighters, paratroopers, and Germans alike The confusion and chaos on all sides is almost tangible It seems ludicrous to me that the German higher command were so slow on the uptake that these raids were the preliminary steps of the long awaited invasion The narrative then changes gear to focus on the beach landings arguably the most drama episode of D Day There isn t much for me to say here, except that Ryan s writing is an excellent tribute to the men who stormed the Normandy beaches on June 6th, 1944.As mentioned above, Ryan s eloquent use of first hand accounts is what makes this book special In the acknowledgments, Ryan states that he crafted the narrative from the knowledge gained by conducting interviews with over one thousand D Day survivors, from all sides 383 of these interviews were used in the text I really enjoyed how balanced the narrative is, as Ryan would switch back and forth between American, British, French, and German perspectives.Ultimately, The Longest Day is the premier human history of D Day, and I m confident that it will not be surpassed in that regard However, this book is only an average military history I say that because there is little to no analysis, no maps, and while the reliance on first hand accounts makes for entertaining reading, it doesn t make for extremely clear understanding of the events Because it is not a traditional military history, I suspect that The Longest Day will appeal to a very wide audience For those uninterested in the minutiae of tactics, organization, and other military details, but who want to learn the story of D Day, I think this book is a perfect choice And for those who, like me, are interested in the small details, Ryan s excellent writing and storytelling makes this book well worth a read The first wave assault troops could not yet see the misty shores of Normandy They were stillthan nine miles away Some warships were already dueling with German naval coastal batteries, but the action as yet was remote and impersonal for the soldiers in the boats Seasickness was still their biggest enemy Few were immune The assault boats, each loaded with about thirty men and all their weighty equipment, rode so low in the water that waves rolled over the side and out again With each The first wave assault troops could not yet see the misty shores of Normandy They were stillthan nine miles away Some warships were already dueling with German naval coastal batteries, but the action as yet was remote and impersonal for the soldiers in the boats Seasickness was still their biggest enemy Few were immune The assault boats, each loaded with about thirty men and all their weighty equipment, rode so low in the water that waves rolled over the side and out again With each wave the boats pitched and tossed, and Colonel Eugene Caffey of the 1st Engineers Special Brigade remembers that some of the men in his boat just lay there with the water sloshing back and forth over them, not caring whether they lived or died But for those among them not yet incapacitated by seasickness, the sight of the great invasion fleet looming up all about them was awesome and wonderful In Corporal Gerald Burt s boatload of demolition engineers, one man wistfully remarked that he wished he d brought his camera Cornelius Ryan, The Longest DayThe most surprising thing about Cornelius Ryan s D Day classic The Longest Day is how short it is Despite its epic subject matter and despite the prodigious length of the epic movie that followed its publication The Longest Day comes in at under 300 pages This, combined with Ryan s novelistic writing style, made for a surprisingly quick read Yet it still packs a bunch, an immediacy that speaks to its intimate, present tense style Ryan was an Irish born war correspondent who saw World War II firsthand He flew along on bomber missions with the U.S Air Force and was later embedded with General Patton s Third Army When he decided to write about D Day, he and a team of researchers sent questionnaires around the globe These went to all manner of participant, from the German high command to French Resistance members to ordinary civilians According to Ryan, a thousand interviews were collected, collated, cross checked, and then bolstered with further questions He set out to tell a story comprised of a thousand stories This is about the extent of Ryan s disclosed methodologyon that in a bit The collection by Ryan and his team of primary sources is The Longest Day s great contribution to history Even though only a fraction of these accounts are used in the book, they are presumably available, somewhere, for use by other historians This matters The Longest Day was first published in 1959, a mere fifteen years after the invasion that helped save the world We are now approaching the 75th year since that faithful day, and even the youngest surviving participants would be in their nineties The Longest Day has become something of a time capsule, preserving the stories of the men and women who were there, before too much time had passed Perhaps the main reason The Longest Day is a recognized classic of historical writing is its style It is composed as a novel, with lines of dialogue and interior thoughts Ryan breaks the narrative into brief, vivid vignettes, some with self contained arcs, others with storylines that pay off throughout the book On the first page, we begin in the village of La Roche Guyon, described wonderfully as a place that had sat undisturbed for nearly twelve centuries in a great lazy loop of the Seine A bell tolls 6 00 a.m in the Church of St Samson On the last page, in the kind of mirror twinned scene you d get in fiction, Ryan returns to the village of La Roche Guyon, where the bell tolls midnight Ryan separates his story into three parts the buildup to the invasion The Wait the paratroopers war The Night and the seaborne invasion itself The Day He gives you the vantage point of Eisenhower and Rommel, but his focus is on the lesser known participants, from American generals Theodore Roosevelt Jr and Norman Cota, to Staff Sergeant Alfred Eigenberg, a medic with the 6th Engineers Special Brigade On Dog Red, Eigenberg came across a young soldier sitting in the sand with his leg laid open from the knee to the pelvis The wound was so deep that Eigenberg could clearly see the femoral artery pulsing The soldier was in deep shock Calmly he informed Eigenberg, I ve taken my sulfa pills and I ve shaken all my sulfa powder into the wound I ll be all right, won t I The nineteen year old Eigenberg didn t quite know what to say He gave the soldier a shot of morphine and told him, Sure, you ll be all right Then, folding the neatly sliced halves of the man s leg together, Eigenberg did the only thing he could think of he carefully closed the wound with safety pins.Ryan s method whether it involves crusty old generals or callow young riflemen is pointillist In deciding to describe this event as it would have been be told in a war novel, Ryan eschews any extended presentation of the overall picture He does not describe or analyze the strategy He does not follow the progress of individual units He does not list the various units banging away at each other on those bloody beaches His is an experiential account, interested in what the soldiers felt, saw, and did, and not overly concerned with tactical descriptions or orders of battle For Ryan, it is enough to note that the Allies won and the Germans lost I don t know if this is true of all editions, but there is not a single map, save for a picture of a German map that is included with the photo inserts The ground level viewpoint is so vital and propulsive you don t really stop to think how all these disparate anecdotes twine together to form a historical result Ryan s style is such that you can be absorbed into these accounts despite having no idea spatially, temporally where many of these individual actions are taking place Of course, I ve read books about D Day before, so the lack of maps and a bird s eye view did not hamper me Newcomers to D Day might want to unfurl a map of the French coast Unfortunately, Ryan s novelistic approach is taken a bit too far This is a work of non fiction, in which a massive effort according to Ryan took place to gather and corroborate facts However, Ryan does not use footnotes, endnotes, or any type of notes He gives a list of contributors, but does not incorporate that into any sort of citation system Perhaps this is a nitpickthan a substantive issue, but there are times when a story seemed too good to be true, and when I instinctively turned to the back of the book, I kept remembering there was no way to tell This does nothing to diminish The Longest Day s place in the literary historical firmament Ryan did a great service by collecting these remembrances and shaping them into something gripping and lasting History should never be boring History is life, only yesterday Ryan s version of D Day will be read and reread as long as people care about World War II June 6, 1944 is a day that will be undimmed by the memory of time The Longest Day will continue to exist right alongside it 6 June 1944 is a day that can be seen as the pivotal point of World War II, which definitely swung the momentum of war in favor of the Allied forces It was a day when the allied forces successfully opened the final European phase of the World War II by invading and gaining footholds on the shores of France, which was the first step, aimed at freeing the continent from Nazi occupation The Longest Day from Cornelius Ryan is a masterpiece of military history and a true classic, which gives the re 6 June 1944 is a day that can be seen as the pivotal point of World War II, which definitely swung the momentum of war in favor of the Allied forces It was a day when the allied forces successfully opened the final European phase of the World War II by invading and gaining footholds on the shores of France, which was the first step, aimed at freeing the continent from Nazi occupation The Longest Day from Cornelius Ryan is a masterpiece of military history and a true classic, which gives the reader a thrilling account on the tragic yet heroic battle, which happened on 6 June 1944, the D Day Even though there are hundreds of books that narrates the history, massive battle, events and the aftermath of the Allied Invasion at Normandy, The Longest Day with it s captivatingly lucid, novel like narrative and succinctness shines among them The Longest Day is all about the story of the people the men of the Allied forces, the enemy they fought and the civilians who were caught up in the bloody confusion of D Day The book was the result of exhaustive researches and interviews that Cornelius Ryan conducted with the survivors of that eventful day With great skill the author creates an epic overview of the Allied Invasion out of little anecdotes and personal experiences told from the perspective of participants from all camps Americans, British, Canadians, Germans and French Field Marshal Erwin Rommel who was the commander in chief of the Army Group B and who was responsible for the German defenses at Normandy foresaw the importance of the Allied Invasion attempts on the course of war and on German history His predictions about such an invasion can be seen from his words taken from a conversation with his aide Hauptmann Helmuth Lang on 22 April 1944.The war will be won or lost on the beaches We ll have only one chance to stop the enemy and that s while he s in the water struggling to get ashore Reserves will never get up to the point of attack and it s foolish even to consider them The Hauptkampflinie main line of resistance will be here everything we have must be on the coast Believe me, Lang, the first twenty four hours of the invasion will be decisive for the Allies, as well as Germany, it will be the longest day Cornelius Ryan decided on the title of the book based on this statement from Rommel.The book is divided into three segments named The Wait , which describes the events and decisions on both the Allied and German sides leading up to the assault The Night , which describes the colossal airborne assaults and paratroop landings which started the Invasion and The Day , which describes the epic beach assaults that occurred on the shores between the mouth of the Orne River near Caen to the base of Cotentin peninsula with five major invasion beaches codenamed Omaha, Utah, Sword, June and Gold.Cornelius Ryan packs all the horrific intensity of the beach assaults through eyewitness accounts, which makes the reader feel he is right there on the beachfront This can be perceived from one such experience taken from the book, that describes the action from Bloody Omaha Sergeant Barton A Davis of the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion saw an assault boat bearing down on him It was filled with 1 Division men and was coming straight in through the obstacles There was a tremendous explosion and the boat disintegrated It seemed to Davis that everyone in it was thrown into the air all at once Bodies and parts of bodies landed all around the flaming wreckage I saw black dots of men trying to swim through the gasoline that had spread on the water and as we wondered what to do a headless torso flew a good fifty feet through the air and landed with a sickening thud near us Davis did not see how anyone could have lived through the explosion, but two men did They were pulled out of the water, badly burned but alive.Even though this is a rather slim volume The Longest Day captures all the glory, bravery, carnage, agony, tragedy and disgrace of such an epic event an event that saw about 90,000 British American troops in the beach invasion, about 20,000 airborne troops, 5000 vessels and 11000 aircraft sorties beautifully What makes this book standout from the rest is the way in which the author makes it an experience for the reader by bringing key moments of the epic battle through the feelings of actual participants rather than deeply investigating the actual strategies and unit by unit combat descriptions This is a classic military history piece, which is highly recommended for anyone interested in military conflicts, world war literature or history.The 1962 massive hit war movie with the same title was based on this book Detailed Reveiw with photographs can be accessed from here I think the only reason I didn t rate this higher is the audio narrator, although the format of the book also wasn t to my taste I just felt like a timeline was being regurgitated instead of having a story told What is so amazing to me is just how active this one day in June was, and how it almost felt apart.