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Kokomo Tribune (Newspaper) - May 8, 1994, Kokomo, Indiana BY HERBERT KUPFERBERG WHATS THIS The best books about the most crucial 24 hours of World War II The Winners and Losers Remember DDay Among the debris on the beach the day after DDay Pvt Robert Healey a who had survived the invasion at tack on June 6 1944 came upon the body of another young soldier who hadnt Near the dead mans outstretched hand lay a paperback book Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner Healey thought the title re flected the spirit of the invasion ordeal itself Our hearts were young and gay because we thought we were immortal we believed we were doing a great thing and we really believed in the crusade which we hoped would liberate the world from the heel of Perhaps the incident is significant in another way for showing that some sol diers carried books in their supply packs along with the three items regarded as most rations and cigarettes Certainly today as we prepare to observe the 50th anniversary of DDay it is books that are retelling most compellingly the story of the land ings by the Allies on the Normandy coast of France Its impossible to cover all the vol umes of DDay reminiscences analy ses and critiques that are now coming out so this roundup of recommended titles is necessarily limited Some of these books have an official publication date of June 6 but youll find many of them in bookstores already All are il lustrated some quite handsomely and any will give the reader new insight into the military political and above all hu man aspects of this mightiest of all in vasions BmB CUIIIC CM ir IMT CORNELIUS RYAN Private Healeys quotation is from DDay June The Climac tic Battle of World War II by Stephen E Ambrose Simon Schuster Ambrose probably knows more about Dwight D Eisenhower the Allies supreme commander than does anyone else He has written a twovolume bi ography of the general and directed the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans But he also knows a great deal about the DDay battles and the men who fought them and much of his 700page book is based on ac counts by Al lied and Ger man soldiers and on the re actions of those who could only wait and hope including even Anne Frank in her lonely attic hideaway From such personal details Ambrose builds up a magnificent picture of the great battle with such shrewd observations as that Hitler trying to run the show from Berchtesgaden interfered disastrously with his commanders in sharp contrast to Churchill and Roosevelt who made no attempt at all to tell their generals and admirals what to do on DDay and to Eisenhower who also left the deci sionmaking up to his If Ambroses is the most extensive of the new books the most compact is DDay and the Invasion of Nor mandy by Anthony Kemp an entry in Abrams admirable Discoveries series This beautifully printed little 192page paperback recounts both the buildup and the battle concisely and its 230 illustrations are distinctive and imag inative Most unusual are a color fold out of an aerial view of the beaches and a replica of the Overlord created by English needleworkers to up date the famous medieval Bayeux Tap estry that hangs in the battle zone America at DDay A Book of Remembrance by Richard Goldstein Delta paperback is espe cially worthwhile for its glimpses of the homefront news paper that ran the Lords Prayer as its editorial the synagogue that stayed open for prayer for 24 hours the sports events that were called off Among the books that tell the whole story one should not overlook the late Cornelius Ryans classic The Longest Day the first of the DDay his tories which subsequently be came an admired movie Pub lished in 1959 it has been reissued as a Touchstone pa perback and still stands up very well for its swiftmov ing coverage of the strategy the battle scenes and the episodes of individual heroism Assault on Normandy First Person Accounts From the Sea Services edited by Paul Stillwell gives the Navy its due share of credit for the in vasions success The book published by the Naval Institute Press has some 50 firsthand accounts of troop transport shore bombardments plant ing of artificial harbors and other crucial aspects of the massive crossing One key element was the LCVP Landing Craft Vehicle which carried thousands of infantrymen to the beaches Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats That Won World War II by Jerry E Strahan Louisiana State Uni versity Press tells the story of the maverick industrialist who overcame the naval bureaucracy to design and con struct the shallowdraft boats No ever remembered a ride aboard a bob bing 36foot LCVP with pleasure but the little ships got the job done The Normandy Diary of Marie Louise Osmont Random House is devoted to a journal kept by a French woman in the Caen area where some of the fiercest fighting took place The feisty independentminded Mme Os mont saw her chateau occupied by Ger man troops for four years and subse quently by the British Its a little sad to observe that she found the Germans the better behaved Her distinctively per sonal and spirited book is filled with the agonies of die devastation she witnessed and the daily deprivations she under a visit to a hairdresser could become a physical pleasure al most a spiritual Finally Michelin has reprinted its Battle of Normandy map orig inally issued in 1947 Folding out to ap proximately 46 by 28 inches it shows the entire Normandy area in great de tail with the landing zones and battle sites clearly marked plus brief but in formative annotations in French and English If any map can bring alive the great campaign this is it AND WHAT IF THEY HAD LOSTP The invasion of Normandy borrow Wellingtons description of the Battle of nearrun There were times such as at the fierce Jy contested landing at Omaha Beach when the tide of battle could easily have gone the other way As u turned out the Allies got several breaks The Germans werent cpnvinced that this was the real invasion Field Marshal Rommel was away from the front and Adolf Hitler held back his armor But what if things hadnt gone right Peter Tsouras a British author has written Pisaiter at Stackpole Bppk a fictional account in which the invaders Jose to this fanciful version Rommel stays on the scene Hitter reserves and the Allied troops are driven back into seaThomas spins out his yarn in meticulous mili tary detail even providing maps pictures and footnotes some of the tetter deliberately In the end all turns out well with Hitlers generals inviting him to a victory Normandy where they take care of him in their own way But its much better that it happened the way it did PARABIMAQAIINI MAY PAOi 19
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