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Good "hard" military history of Overlord?

 
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Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 4/30/2019 9:34:35 PM   
Zoetermeer

 

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I'm looking for a highly detailed account, not an NYT bestseller with no detail on the operations. What I have in mind is the analogue of Glantz books for Overlord (or the whole of the western campaign 44-45). Does anything like this exist?
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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/1/2019 5:35:42 AM   
cfulbright

 

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The Army published its 78-volume history of World War II, and you can find the books on Amazon or other sites. Overlord was covered in:

Cross-Channel Attack Gordon A. Harrison 1951
Breakout and Pursuit Martin Blumenson 1961

Cary

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/1/2019 7:42:05 PM   
bomccarthy


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I believe most or all of them are also in the public domain, so PDF versions are available for free download.

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/1/2019 7:50:51 PM   
Zoetermeer

 

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Interesting, thanks so much, yeah I did a quick search and was able to find the PDF free online. I will certainly check this out -- any books though other than these? I haven't done a ton of reading about this particular theater obviously, but my impression is that so much has been written about it, there must be some seminal works out there.

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/1/2019 8:53:20 PM   
Red Lancer


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Overlord - Max Hastings

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John
WitE2 Asst Producer
WitE & WitW Dev

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/3/2019 12:43:37 PM   
Telemecus


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Carlo D'Este was the classic on the anniversary of the battle - more maps of where units were than human interest stories. As you expect from someone who was ex military. It is a bit dated now, but unlike the Eastern front there is not as much new evidence released anyway. Unusually for an American author it does emphasise the British/Canadian beaches instead of the American ones. Not being able to get Caen on the first day and the consequences afterwards is the main story arc.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Decision-Normandy-Carlo-DEste/dp/1568522606

< Message edited by Telemecus -- 5/3/2019 12:58:30 PM >

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/4/2019 6:31:27 PM   
Mac Linehan

 

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Gents -

I used to read Max Hastings each June; Carlo D'Este is another fine Historian.

Am currently rereading the "Liberation Trilogy" by Rick Atkinson (am on book two: "Day of Battle" - which covers Italy).

"The Guns at Last Light," book three, covers D Day to Germany. Atkinson, in my perception, covers it all - from the strategic, operational to tactics; he also delves deeply into the personalities and politics involved. I would highly recommend all of the above mentioned books; I also have nothing but the highest respect for the courage and toughness of all the men and women who endured and sacrificed so much for out freedom.

Am currently playing War in the West: Torch as the Allies; the Liberation Trilogy has given me a much deeper understanding of the what and why of the scenario order of battle, supply and force deployment.

Thank You for the recommendation of the official histories; I will find them and add to my library.

Last:

For a different perspective, "Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II" by Belton Cooper is a must. He covers D Day to Germany as an armored vehicle (Tank) repair officer, and gives excellent insight into the challenges of recovering, repairing and reissuing hundreds of M4 Shermans as replacement tanks. Mr. Cooper is an engineer and knows his stuff - from horsepower ratios to ballistics. He is quite adamant about the design inadequacies (especially armor protection) of the Sherman; as he and his team had to frequently clean out (often with a hose) the inside of a burnt or damaged tank, removing what was left of the crew.

Mr. Cooper also covers, in detail, the deployment of the M26 Pershing and the testing of an upgraded, higher velocity 90mm main gun that was quite capable of dealing with Tigers and Panthers.

Mac



< Message edited by Mac Linehan -- 5/4/2019 6:34:33 PM >


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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/5/2019 1:01:53 AM   
IslandInland


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Red Lancer

Overlord - Max Hastings


^
This.


_____________________________

I saw generals create imaginary "masses of manoeuvre" with a crayon and dispose of enemy concentrations, that were on the ground and on the map, with an eraser. Who was I to criticise them, hero as I was of a hundred "Chinagraph wars" of make-believe?

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 5/27/2019 12:55:30 AM   
Delaware

 

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Peter Caddick Adams just release Sand and Steel on D-Day, which is as good as his Snow and Steel on the Bulge.

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 6/22/2019 10:11:48 PM   
JonS


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FWIW, apart from the US Official Histories (and the UK and Canadian equivalents) I don't recommend any of the books suggested so far as standalone books.

Hastings: the book is 30-odd years old now, but even in 1980s it was showing its age. Overlord was the first "serious" history book I bought, and I read the damn thing to death, however ... Hastings is a journalist, not a historian. He is - or at least was - a fully paid up member of the 'OMG Teh Germans Ar Awesum! We Should Just Do What They Did!' school. Looking back at it now, it's an embarrassing book.

D'Este: written at about the same time as Hasting's book, so similarly dated. While he does write about the British and Canadians, if he were any more one-eyed about it, he'd be walking in circles. One of the central planks of his 'the British weren't really in to it' thesis (that the perfidious Brits kept hundreds of thousands of fit and ready men back in the UK) turns out to be a lie, or at least based on appallingly bad research.

Cooper: Burn this book. Apart from it being utterly useless for the nominal question being asked here (an operational history of Overlord), it's a terrible book in its own right. Cooper was a bawbag LT in an ordnance company. Basically he didn't know his arse from his elbow, but that doesn't stop him opining on everything from grand strategy to supposed conversations between people he never met. When he stays in his own narrow lane - his particular role and his personal experiences - he is ok, but unfortunately that's only a small part of this otherwise worthless book. It's a real shame, too, because a good personal history of the work of an ordnance company would have been a wonderful addition to the literature.

Atkinson: his writing is ok, but it's bubble-gum history with a very US-centric approach.

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 6/22/2019 10:18:47 PM   
Searry

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JonS

FWIW, apart from the US Official Histories (and the UK and Canadian equivalents) I don't recommend any of the books suggested so far as standalone books.

Hastings: the book is 30-odd years old now, but even in 1980s it was showing its age. Overlord was the first "serious" history book I bought, and I read the damn thing to death, however ... Hastings is a journalist, not a historian. He is - or at least was - a fully paid up member of the 'OMG Teh Germans Ar Awesum! We Should Just Do What They Did!' school. Looking back at it now, it's an embarrassing book.

D'Este: written at about the same time as Hasting's book, so similarly dated. While he does write about the British and Canadians, if he were any more one-eyed about it, he'd be walking in circles. One of the central planks of his 'the British weren't really in to it' thesis (that the perfidious Brits kept hundreds of thousands of fit and ready men back in the UK) turns out to be a lie, or at least based on appallingly bad research.

Cooper: Burn this book. Apart from it being utterly useless for the nominal question being asked here (an operational history of Overlord), it's a terrible book in its own right. Cooper was a bawbag LT in an ordnance company. Basically he didn't know his arse from his elbow, but that doesn't stop him opining on everything from grand strategy to supposed conversations between people he never met. When he stays in his own narrow lane - his particular role and his personal experiences - he is ok, but unfortunately that's only a small part of this otherwise worthless book. It's a real shame, too, because a good personal history of the work of an ordnance company would have been a wonderful addition to the literature.

Atkinson: his writing is ok, but it's bubble-gum history with a very US-centric approach.

Thanks for these frank opinions. I find it very difficult to find a Glantz like book on this subject.

(in reply to JonS)
Post #: 11
RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 6/23/2019 3:10:56 AM   
JonS


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@Searry,
there is plenty of great writing on the campaign in NWE, but it's spread across multiple authors. Which is fine - you should always be a bit side-eye about any single source that's supposedly definitive.

The OHs are flat out great for answering the Who, What, Where, and When questions, and to some degree the Why questions. They're generally pretty terrible at the How question. They were also written in the 1950s and 1960s, which tends to colour the writing, as well as masking some interesting stuff that has come later (obvious example: Enigma). None of them are very good at analysis though.

Hastings and D'Este aren't really bad, or at least not completely terrible, and they both give a workmanlike of NEPTUNE and the campaign in Normandy including analysis of what they think the underlying factors were. Read together and in conjunction with other readings they're ok. Just, do not ever look at them as definitive. Atkinson ... eh. He's pretty readable, but also pretty glib. I'd stay way the feck away from anything by either Ambrose or Beevor.

Books on NEPTUNE, the campaign in Normandy, and NWE that I recommend:
* Ben Kite, Stout Hearts: The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944
* Joachim Ludewig, Rückzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944
* Douglas E. Delaney, Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-45
* Terry Copp, Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945
* Chester Wilmot, The Struggle for Europe
* Russell F. Weigley, Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaigns of France and Germany, 1944-45 (I haven't read this, but it is recommended by a friend whose judgement I trust)
* William F. Buckingham, D-Day: The First 72 Hours
* Kenneth Macksey, Battle (thinly fictionalised account of the planning and conduct of a battle in Normandy, from soup to nuts)
* Ian Gooderson, Air Power at the Battlefront: Allied Close Air Support in Europe 1943-45 (move beyond 'oh, Typhoons just killed everything' to a deeper understanding of how airpower was employed and what it was capable of)
* Brian A. Reid, No Holding Back: Operation Totalize, Normandy, August 1944 (exemplar for writing about a particular battle)
* Stephen Ashley Hart, Montgomery and 'Colossal Cracks': The 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe, 1944-45
* Michael D. Doubler, Closing With the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945
* Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won (covers a lot more ground than NWE)
* John Buckley, Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe (not really operational history, but looks at the mechanics of the various arms within 21AG, and how they worked together)
* John Buckley, British Armour in the Normandy Campaign 1944 (part of the revisionist wave that came after the wrecking ball that was Hastings and D'Este)
* John Buckley, The Normandy Campaign 1944: Sixty Years On (I have a soft spot for Buckley ...)
* Terry Copp, Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy (... and Copp)


< Message edited by JonS -- 6/23/2019 3:21:10 AM >

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 6/23/2019 11:13:37 AM   
Searry

 

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Thanks! What I dislike the most is the cold war myth that Hitler was the source of all evils in the defeats of the German army and how invincible the army was. I really hope we can soon move into an era where the fanboys stop writing.

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 6/24/2019 1:29:08 AM   
JonS


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Yeah, whoever wrote "history is written by the victors" had obviously never heard of the Eastern Front. (Or the US Civil War, for that matter)

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RE: Good "hard" military history of Overlord? - 7/8/2019 2:33:02 AM   
Mac Linehan

 

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Hi JonS -

Thank You for the recommendations; I will start with "Closing With the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945."

Mac

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