6 June, 1944. 156,000 troops from 12 different countries, 11,000 aircraft, 7,000 naval vessels, 24 hours. D-Day - the beginning of the Allied invasion of Hitler's formidable 'Fortress Europe' - was the largest amphibious invasion in history. There has never been a battle like it, before or since. But beyond the statistics and over sixty years on, what is it about the events of D-Day that remain so compelling? The courage of the men who fought and died on the beaches of France? The sheer boldness of the invasion plan? Or the fact that this, Rommel's 'longest day', heralded the beginning of the end of World War II. One of the defining battles of the war, D-Day is scored into the imagination as the moment when the darkness of the Third Reich began to be swept away. This is the story of D-Day, told through the voices of over 1,000 survivors - from high-ranking Allied and German officers, to the paratroopers who landed in Normandy before dawn, the infantry who struggled ashore and the German troops who defended the coast.Cornelius Ryan captures the horror and the glory of D-Day, relating in emotive and compelling detail the years of inspired tactical planning that led up to the invasion, its epic implementation and every stroke of luck and individual act of heroism that would later define the battle.
In the words of its author, The Longest Day is a story not of war, but of the courage of man.
Cornelius Ryan (1920-1974) was a celebrated Irish-American journalist and author, most famous for his popular military history books on World War II, including The Longest Day and A Bridge Two Far, both of which were made into major films. He began his career as war correspondent for The Daily Telegraph in 1941 and initially covered the air war in Europe, during which he flew on 14 bombing missions before joining Patton's Third Army, whose actions he covered until the end of the war. In 1945 he transferred to cover the Pacific and in 1946, Jerusalem. In 1947 he moved to the US to work for Time, where he reported on post-war atomic testing and on the Israeli war of 1948. He was awarded the Legion d'honneur and an honorary D.Litt from Ohio University, where the Cornelius Ryan Collection - one of the largest single collections of firsthand information outside government archives on D-Day - is housed.