Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company / Time Warner
Release Date: May, 2004
Format Reviewed: Hardbound
Buy it at Amazon
Read an Excerpt
Genre:   Non-fiction / History
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Ellen E. Kennedy
Reviewer Notes:  

Ten Days to D-Day
Citizens and Soldiers on the Eve of the Invasion
By David Stafford

      Drawing from diaries, official records and first-hand accounts, David Stafford has compiled a gripping history of extraordinary courage and sacrifice in the most dramatic, agonizing days of the European front in World War II. Especially appropriate at the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day, it is every bit as exciting as Tom Clancy’s best. And it’s all true.

     The narrative begins in late May, 1944, when we are introduced to an eclectic cast of real-life characters, all waiting nervously for D-Day and the inevitable Allied invasion of Europe, some praying for it, others dreading it, and everyone aware of what hangs in the balance. Spies and soldiers, the famous and infamous (including Hitler, Eisenhower, Churchill, and a rather recalcitrant DeGaulle), but especially the stories of people relatively unknown to history are what make the most compelling reading.

    In Norway, a captured member of the Resistance keeps a secret diary by poking tiny holes in toilet paper. In the relative safety of Britain, a young member of the Women’s Royal Naval Services—a Wren—works long, grueling hours underground, coding and decoding ships’ messages. Also in Britain, a young Canadian soldier fights frustration and boredom, waiting for the order to move out. In France, a member of the Resistance listens anxiously to the BBC on a tiny radio hidden inside a soup can. A German soldier stationed in France writes home wishful assurances that all is well. Stafford follows these and many others as they count down the minutes to H-hour and what happens when the signal is given. There is much pain and struggle ahead, but it marks the beginning of the end of the War.

   Especially gratifying—and sometimes heartbreaking--is the denouement in the form of an epilogue, explaining what happened to the people we have come to know and care about.

   Over time, the events depicted in Ten Days to D-Day have faded somewhat in our cultural memory. It is important for us all to understand and appreciate what was at stake in June of 1944 and what was necessary to achieve the victory.