Book Review: Ten Days to D-Day: Citizens and Soldiers on the Eve of the Invasion

Archives

by David Stafford

New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2003. Pp. 377. Illus., map, biblio., index. $26.95. ISBN:0-316-60561-1

David Stafford, for those who don’t know of his writings, is one of the most prominent and incisive historians of the Second World War in the area of intelligence and secret activities. He’s written books on SOE operations in Europe and America, the uses of intelligence by various heads of state, and various other topics along those lines. This book is very much a departure for him: though there are SOE operatives in the book, the focus, is instead on the various roles that people played during the Second World War. The book follows a number of individuals during the ten days leading up to the D-Day invasion itself. Each of the individuals has something unique about them, something that makes them unusual, though they were also rather mundane individuals also. The book spends considerably less time detailing what Eisenhower, Montgomery, Rommel, and Hitler were doing than most other books on D-Day, instead concentrating on the actions and daily life of these other, more mundane individuals. They include a female code clerk in the British Navy, an SOE operative in France, a young French schoolteacher who spies for the British, a Norwegian resister who was imprisoned for publishing an underground newspaper, a Jew in occupied France who hides in his neighbor’s maid’s quarters, and common Canadian, American, and German soldiers (one each).

While this isn’t one of Stafford’s more intellectual exercises dealing with intelligence issues, it’s still an interesting look at the Second World War from an unusual perspective. Those common people are interesting, and the points of view of those individuals, their daily lives, and the things that happen to them as the invasion occurs, are interesting and frankly the sort of thing we don’t read about that much. The author discusses such things as sporting events (there was a relatively important cricket championship just a few days before D-Day), newspapers, and other such things. One of the pictures in the illustration section shows Allied tanks lined up for D-Day on a road through an English village, with housewives hanging up their washing right next to the tanks.

This is one of those books that provides an interesting perspective on the war, and I would recommend it highly.

Reviewer: David Nichols   


Buy it at Amazon.com




X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close