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Historical Non-fiction: D-Day

The Bedford boys : one American town’s ultimate D-Day sacrifice / Alex Kershaw – June 6, 1944: Nineteen boys from Bedford, Virginia–population just 3,000 in 1944–died in the first bloody minutes of D-Day. They were part of Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, and the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches in Normandy. Later in the campaign, three more boys from this small Virginia town died of gunshot wounds. Twenty-two sons of Bedford lost–it is a story one cannot easily forget and one that the families of Bedford will never forget. The Bedford Boys is the true and intimate story of these men and the friends and families they left behind. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and relatives, as well as diaries and letters, Kershaw’s book focuses on several remarkable individuals and families to tell one of the most poignant stories of World War II–the story of one small American town that went to war and died on Omaha Beach.

Big Week : the biggest air battle of World War II / James Holland – Historian James Holland chronicles the massive air battle through the experiences of those who lived and died during the massive air battle during one of the biggest turning points in battle history. Prior to Big Week, the air forces on both sides were in crisis. Allied raids into Germany were being decimated, but German resources― fuel and pilots ―were strained to the breaking point. Ultimately new Allied aircraft ― especially the American long-range P-51 Mustang ― and superior tactics won out during Big Week. Through interviews, oral histories, diaries, and official records, Holland follows the fortunes of pilots, crew, and civilians on both sides, taking readers from command headquarters to fighter cockpits to anti-aircraft positions and civilian chaos on the ground, vividly recreating the campaign as it was conceived and unfolded. In the end, the six days of intense air battles largely cleared the skies of enemy aircraft when the invasion took place on June 6, 1944―D-Day.

D-Day girls : the spies who armed the resistance, sabotaged the Nazis and helped win World War II / by Sarah Rose Crown – The dramatic, inspiring story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to sabotage the Nazis, shore up the Resistance, and pave the way for Allied victory in World War II.

The first wave : the D-Day warriors who led the way to victory in World War II / by Alex Kershaw – Beginning in the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, The First Wave follows the remarkable men who carried out D-Day’s most perilous missions. The charismatic, unforgettable cast includes the first American paratrooper to touch down on Normandy soil; the British glider pilot who braved antiaircraft fire to crash-land mere yards from the vital Pegasus Bridge; the Canadian brothers who led their troops onto Juno Beach under withering fire; as well as a French commando, returning to his native land, who fought to destroy German strongholds on Sword Beach and beyond. Readers will experience the sheer grit of the Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc and the astonishing courage of the British airborne soldiers who captured the Merville Gun Battery in the face of devastating enemy counterattacks. The first to fight when the stakes were highest and the odds longest, these men would determine the fate of the invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe–and the very history of the twentieth century. The result is an epic of close combat and extraordinary heroism. It is the capstone Alex Kershaw’s remarkable career, built on his close friendships with D-Day survivors and his intimate understanding of the Normandy battlefield. For the seventy-fifth anniversary, here is a fresh take on World War II’s longest day.

Normandy ’44 : D-Day and the epic 77-day battle for France / James Holland – Drawing freshly on widespread archives and on the testimonies of eye-witnesses, Holland relates the extraordinary planning that made Allied victory in France possible; indeed, the story of how hundreds of thousands of men, and mountains of materiel, were transported across the English Channel, is as dramatic a human achievement as any battlefield exploit. The brutal landings on the five beaches and subsequent battles across the plains and through the lanes and hedgerows of Normandy―a campaign that, in terms of daily casualties, was worse than any in World War I―come vividly to life in conferences where the strategic decisions of Eisenhower, Rommel, Montgomery, and other commanders were made, and through the memories of paratrooper Lieutenant Dick Winters of Easy Company, British corporal and tanker Reg Spittles, Thunderbolt pilot Archie Maltbie, German ordnance officer Hans Heinze, French resistance leader Robert Leblanc, and many others.

Omaha Beach on D-Day (Graphic Novel)/ photographs, Robert Capa ; story, Jean-David Morvan & Séverine Tréfouël – Graphic story based on Robert Capa’s attendance at and photographs of the Operation Neptune landing operation on June 6, 1944, (D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy. Followed by his photographs and historical commentary.

Six days : the incredible story of D-Day’s lost chapter (Graphic Novel)/ written by Robert Venditti & Kevin Maurer  – June 1944. World War II. D-Day. 182 members of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division parachute into the French countryside–a full eighteen miles southeast of their intended target. Miraculously, the citizens of Graignes, France vote to feed and shelter the soldiers, knowing that the decision would bring them terrible punishment if their efforts were discovered by the Germans. That day of reckoning comes faster than anyone could expect. As a small German militia passes through, the world’s war comes to their remote town in the countryside and for the the next six days, the small band of American paratroopers and French citizens must fight for their lives to hold back 2,000 enemy combatants.

War and peace : FDR’s final odyssey, D-Day to Yalta, 1943-1945 / Nigel Hamilton – The final book in a history of FDR at war describes how the terminally ill president championed the successful D-Daylandings but didn’t live long enough to see the victorious peace he designed.

World War II at sea : a global history / Craig L. Symonds – Craig L. Symonds’ World War II at Sea offers a definitive naval history of the Second World War presenting the chronology of the naval war, from The London Conference of 1930 to the surrender in Tokyo Bay in 1945, on a global scale for the first time.

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