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The Landings to the Liberation of Paris

Olivier Wieviorka

Translated by Malcolm DeBevoise

ISBN 9780674047471

Publication date: 09/01/2010

The Allied landings on the coast of Normandy on June 6, 1944, have assumed legendary status in the annals of World War II. But in overly romanticizing D-day, Olivier Wieviorka argues, we have lost sight of the full picture. Normandy offers a balanced, complete account that reveals the successes and weaknesses of the titanic enterprise.

In addition to describing the landings with precision and drama, Wieviorka covers the planning and diplomatic background, Allied relationships, German defensive preparations, morale of the armies, economics and logistics, political and military leaders, and civilians’ and soldiers’ experience of the fighting. Surprisingly, the landing itself was not the slaughter the general staff expected. The greater battle for Normandy—waged on farmland whose infamous hedgerows, the bocage, created formidable obstacles—took a severe toll not only in lives lost, but on the survivors who experienced this grueling ordeal.

D-day, Wieviorka notes, was a striking accomplishment, but it was war, violent and cruel. Errors, desertions, rivalries, psychological trauma, self-serving motives, thefts, and rapes were all part of the story. Rather than diminishing the Allied achievement, this candid book underscores the price of victory and acknowledges the British, American, and Canadian soldiers who dashed onto the Normandy beaches not as demigods, but as young men.


  • This remarkable work rests on a series of sharp and convincing analyses worthy of a latter-day Thucydides. There isn't any aspect of the colossal and risky enterprise that Wieviorka has neglected. He is as impressive in interpreting the political calculations and motivations of the leaders as in describing the battles and evaluating the gaps between military plans and achievements. His discussion of the psychological trauma of the Allied soldiers is both moving and essential. On a topic on which so much has been written, Wieviorka has come as close to a definitive treatment as one can expect.

    —Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard University


  • Olivier Wieviorka is Professor of History at the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan.

Book Details

  • 464 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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