The popular-serious historians...have a double duty: their accounts have to be vividly real but also historically responsible. Holland, in Normandy ’44, discharges this remit with superb energy ... Holland sweeps us through the D-Day preparations, the invasion, the temporary stalemate on the beachheads and beyond to the eventual breakout ... Any brief analysis of an undertaking of this size cannot do justice to Holland’s impressive organization of facts, figures and details. His narrative style is fluent and pleasingly colloquial (though I have to observe that the cliché count is rather on the high side: too many nails are hammered into coffins, towels are thrown in, keels are even, tensions simmer and situations are dire). At the same time every detail is scrupulously referenced ... As an account of this mighty and vitally significant clash of armies on many battlefields Normandy ’44 stands as richly impressive, hard to surpass.
At its heart, Normandy ’44 is a pleasantly straightforward history, embracing tactics, logistics and the bayonet end of combat. Mr. Holland glides up and down the chain of command, from Eisenhower, Montgomery and Bradley down to the Poor Bloody Infantry who stood at 'the coal-face of battle' ... Detail and scope are the twin strengths of Normandy ’44. While emphasizing GI and Tommy less than Messrs. Kershaw and Milton, Mr. Holland effectively balances human drama with the science of war as the Allies knew it.
This story has been told countless times ... Holland boasts that his book is something genuinely new, promising 'radically different conclusions'. To be honest, I didn’t find anything particularly revelatory. However, this is still a superb account of the invasion that deserves immense praise. What makes it original is not its revelations, but its style. Holland tells this story 'at the tactical level'; in other words, we feel what it was like to be a soldier on the beaches and in the bocage. To convey the human drama of Normandy requires great knowledge and sensitivity. Holland has both in spades.
Holland has a brisk style that effortlessly combines narrative history with combat memoirs from both sides, creatively balancing the general’s and sergeant’s points of view of the daily grind of close quarters combat. Gratefully, this book is well stocked with excellent maps and well-chosen images to supplement the narrative and assist the reader in following the numerous operations of both armies ... In his sharp account Holland fearlessly wades into many of the myths and controversies surrounding the Normandy campaign, exercising a strong inclination to challenge many of the common historical views ... By taking the long view of D-Day as the beginning of a campaign and not just an isolated day in the war, Holland has composed a highly readable account of the Allied effort to not only get ashore on the continent of Europe, but stay ashore and liberate Europe. Well written and illustrated, with some outstanding maps, this book really does a marvelous job of showing the significance of D-day in the Great Crusade to liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany.
This hefty, scrupulously balanced history of the Allied invasion of northern France goes beyond some of the well-known events of D-Day, thanks to Holland’s meticulous research and clear-eyed view of the big picture ... Holland describes the fighting in terrible, chilling detail ... This is an excellent and engrossing new look at the Normandy invasion.
A skillful writer, Holland delivers the occasional jolt, such as a mild rehabilitation of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Even contemporaries criticized his careful preparation and slow advances, but the author points out that this took maximum advantage of superior Allied resources and saved lives ... Far from the first but among the better histories of the Allied invasion of Europe.