On the early hours of June 6, 1944, the first Allied units began to move in towards Normandy, France, taking part in one of the defining moments of the Second World War. In the three years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, United States has become embroiled in a massive confrontation, deploying soldiers first to Africa and then to Italy to relieve the pressure off of Europe and the Soviet Union and to open additional fronts against the German military. Operation Overlord is notable for a number of reasons. While it was by far the largest seaborne invasion that the world had ever seen, it was not the operation that spelled the end of the German occupation of France and mainland Europe. The invasion was a component, one that very nearly failed, in larger wartime strategy and planning that as a whole, helped to end World War II.

In addition to the complications involved in a major, multinational strategy, Operation Overlord was an incredibly ambitious, dangerous and complicated military offensive that integrated seven separate military forces and numerous branches of said militaries, which in and of itself, lent itself to numerous difficulties and challenges. Different militaries (The United States, The United Kingdom, Canada,  Free France, Poland, Norway and Australian armies all took part) operate to different standards, procedures and tactics, and moving all forces onto a single series of battlefields, with specific timetables and goals required an incredible amount of planning and coordination. This was helped by the landings on separate beaches by different nationalities, with Sword taken by the United Kingdom and Free French soldiers, Juno by Canadian and UK forces, Gold Beach by UK, while Omaha and Utah beaches were taken by the United States.

Other difficulties came with inter-unit coordination. Prior to the United States landings on Utah and Omaha, the 8th and 9th Air Forces flew over the beach sites on bombing runs, working to take out German emplacements and weapons, while providing cover on the ground for soldiers. The second wave of soldiers would be the airborne soldiers, flying in overnight to begin their attacks on German units. They were then followed by a navel bombardment, which sought to further disrupt German batteries on the beachfronts themselves. Finally, ground soldiers were deployed to the beaches to begin their attack against the German forces on the beaches and into Normandy.

As to be expected with any major operation, there was much that went wrong. While the allies achieved air superiority over the skies of the invasion zones, bombers were hampered by inclement weather, and out of sight of their targets, opted to drop their bombs slightly later, to avoid hitting any of the ships and soldiers waiting off the shore. As a result, most bombs landed inland, away from their targets. Airborne soldiers, hampered by the same weather, and pilots avoiding anti-aircraft fire, were hopelessly scattered across the invasion zone, where they operated in smaller units, often miles from their original targets. Naval bombardments missed, or did little damage to hardened targets and batteries, while the weather once again hampered invasion plans as landing ships moved off course, disrupting major units and the tactics that had been planned out for them. The invasion could have very well become one of the worse disasters in U.S. Military History.

However, it wasn't. When the soldiers landed on the beach fronts, they were faced with preset German emplacements and enemy fire. Soldiers were thrown together with soldiers from other units, sometimes from landing zones that were very far away, and quickly learned that the missions that they had trained for weren't necessarily accomplishable. However, with guidance from their officers and from each other, they worked together, pulled upon their training and realized what their immediate goals were, and worked towards placing those goals towards the overall goal of the day: to get off the beach and to form a beach head for the waves of soldiers, materials and weapons coming in behind them. Soldiers from every unit worked to get off the beaches, up the cliffs and pushed the German lines back. By the end of the day, US forces had secured the beaches and had begun to move inland, where they then engaged in a bloody struggle against German resistance in France.

While Normandy was a vital component of the Allied push against the Axis forces, it was not the only one. However, it demonstrated the training and sheer force that was available to the United States and her allies at the time, and showed that technology and a mass of soldiers were not the only things that were in place to win the war: it was the soldier's training and ability to improvise, recognize their goal and seek the means in which to achieve it.

The 'To Read' List

So, it's been a little while since I've done one of these lists, and I've added a number of other books to the queue since I last listed off everything. Here's what I'm reading:


The Catch, Archer Mayor - Just finished this last night. Good, light reading, something that came out last fall that I never got around to picking up when it first came out. It's not as good as the original Joe Gunther novels, but it was a fun read. Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides - Fantastic history of the American west. I'm working through it slowly, and it's one of the best types of histories, that takes a smaller story and places it within the context of the greater happenings of the American expansion to the rest of America during the early 1800s. Shadow Bridge, Gregory Frost - I came across this book when I wrote about Borders giving SF/F authors problems by not selling their books. I'm only a couple pages in, but it seems intersting. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin - Still plugging away every couple of months or so. At this rate, I'll be done with the first book by the time that Martin finished the rest of the series.

Next Up:

Anathem, Neal Stephenson - This one's garnered a lot of attention over the past year since its publication. The Warded Man, Peter Brett - My friend Eric highly recommended this book, and I suspect that I'll get to it quickly. Paris 1919, Margaret Macmillan - I 'read' this for a class in college, and need to give it a proper read now. Woken Furies, Richard K. Morgan - Third book in Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs trilogy. Western Warfare, Jeremy Black - Military History pleasure reading... Warfare in the Western World, Jeremy Black - Ditto. Not until I finish my program, most likely. Generation Kill, Evan Wright - This was made into a miniseries, and I'm intrerested in seeing what it's about and what it says about society. Redcoats, Stephen Brumwell - Another Military history piece that I haven't gotten to yet. Originally, this was to be used for a paper, but my topic shifted and I never got around to reading it. Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Friedman - Christmas present. Looks facinating. What Is Cultural History? Peter Burke - Historigraphy book. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman - Another one that's garnered a lot of attention lately. World War Z, Max Brooks - Despite my rant on Zombies, Ninjas and Pirates the other day, this looks like a fun read. Theodore Rex, Edmund Morris - Biography on Theodore Roosevelt. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, Mark Haddon - My mom recommended this one to me. At some point, I'll get around to reading it. The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon - I loved the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and this one's supposed to be just as good.

And Everything Else: Mao, Jun Chang Heartshaped Box, Joe Hill A Crack at the Edge of the World, Simon Winchester Girl Sleuth, Melanie Rehak The Ten Cent Plague, David Hadju Millennium Falcon, James Luceno The Force Unleashed, Sean Williams Invincible, Troy Denning The Day of Battle, Rick Atkinson The Big Red One, Wheeler Ike: An American Hero, Michael Korda John Adams, David McCullough Lord Tophet, Gregory Frost Pattern Recognition, William Gibson Close to Shore, Michael Capuzzo Flu, Gina Kolata Aspho Fields, Karen Traviss Devices and Desires, K.J. Parker The Zombie Survival Handbook, Max Brooks A Civil Action, Harr Edison's Eve, Gaby Wood A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller Atonement, Ian McEwan A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin Command Decision, Elizabeth Moon Marque and Reprisal, Elizabeth Moon Cosmonaut Keep, Ken MacLeod Fury, Aaron Allston Revelation, Karen Traviss Streets of Shadows, Michael Reeves Inerno, Troy Denning The Dragon's Nine Sons, Chris Robinson Tales of Ten Worlds, Arthur C Clark

53 Books in all. And that's before my school books.