Book Review: D-Day Encyclopedia: Everything You Want to Know About the Normandy Invasion

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by Barrett Tillman

New York: Perseus / Henry Regnery, 2014. Pp. xiv, 386. Illus., maps, biblio. $18.99 paper. ISBN: 1621572870

An Excellent Reference Guide to D-Day

Readers of aviation history will be familiar with Barrett Tillman, a gifted writer, meticulous researcher and insightful interviewer.  In 2004, for the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, Tillman turned his considerable talents to compiling a topical encyclopedia of D-Day.  This useful and reasonably priced book is now back in print from a new publisher on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Any encyclopedia should be a ready reference for people, places and things, and the people, places and things of OPERATION OVERLORD are here in abundance.  This is a book to savor, filled with delightful tidbits of information, such as, the German phonetic alphabet (Anton, Bruno, Caesar, Dora….) and such miscellanea as.

·       Paratroopers were in the air for thirty five seconds, when dropped from the preferred height of 600 feet.

  • Planners did not realize that many of the “German” troops in Normandy were ethnic Poles and Russians, and neglected to provide translators.
  • Although many people assume that the historian Stephen Ambrose (1936-2002) was a WWII veteran, he was just nine years old when the war ended.

As might be expected from an aviation writer, the coverage of Allied and Axis aircraft types that fought over Normandy is particularly comprehensive.  But the book covers pretty much everything.  Tillman even gives us short summaries of Hollywood’s D-Day movies – the way that most Americans now learn WWII history.

Tillman approaches his subject with a touch of wit.  In discussing The Longest Day, he quotes Richard Burton’s outstanding line “The thing that worries me about being one of the Few is how we keep on getting – fewer.”  And consider this classic bit of snarkiness:  “The product of an alcoholic, syphilitic father and  promiscuous American mother, Winston Churchill was one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century.”

Four maps, reproduced in monochrome from the classic West Point Atlas are too small to be easily legible, but the photographs are well-chosen and clear.  Altogether a very useful reference.

 

Our Reviewer: Mike Markowitz is a D.C. based defense analyst, who writes for several defense related journals and Defense Media Network, including, The Year in Special Operations.  He is the co-designer, with John Gresham, of  Supermarina 1  and Supermarina 2 , both from Clash of Arms.  A collector and lecturer on ancient coins, he is active in the Ancient Numismatic Society of Washington, DC.  His previous reviews for StrategyPage include To Train the Fleet for War: The U.S. Navy Fleet Problems, 1923-1940 The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire The Age of the Dromon: The Byzantine Navy, ca. 500-1204 Military Saints in Byzantium and Rus, 900-1200Heroes and Romans in Twelfth-Century Byzantium: The Material for History of Nikephoros BryenniosThe Power Game in Byzantium: Antonina and the Empress Theodora, and Siege Warfare and Military Organization in the Successor States (400-800 AD).

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Reviewer: Mike Markowitz   


Buy it at Amazon.com




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