The most recommended books about Normandy

Who picked these books? Meet our 21 experts.

21 authors created a book list connected to Normandy, and here are their favorite Normandy books.
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Book cover of LST 388: A World War II Journal

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

From my list on surprising and compelling WWII stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of two books (the second is Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression), a blogger, Iowa historian, and a regular contributor to Our American Stories. I’ve woven WII letters and newspaper clippings, along with memoirs and family stories, into the narrative. As Clabe and Leora Wilson’s oldest granddaughter, I also enjoy giving programs about the Wilson family, as well as TV and radio interviews.

Joy's book list on surprising and compelling WWII stories

Joy Neal Kidney Why did Joy love this book?

This is a wonderful WWII memoir on so many levels. Robert von der Osten kept a journal during his time of service. He and his journal not only survived the war, but his ship did as well. The son of a WWI veteran became a radioman on the new LST-388 (Landing Ship Tank) which hauled equipment and men to North Africa, the UK, and made landings on Sicily, Salerno, and many trips to the beaches of Normandy. The US shipped over 1000 locomotives and about 20,000 rail cars to the UK. Railroad tracks were welded to the deck and ramp of LST-388. It made 29 round trips between England and France carrying rail cars.

This is not only the story of a young sailor and his corner of the massive war, but the story of a ship, taking it to its eventual fate after the war. Robert von der Osten…

By Robert William Von Der Osten, Barbara Von Der Osten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked LST 388 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through his journal entries, von der Osten takes us with him to war, from his training days in the newly created amphibious force, to practice beachings on the Chesapeake Bay; from the ports of North Africa and the United Kingdom, to the hostile shores of Sicily, Salerno, and Normandy. All the while serving as a radioman aboard this new kind of ship, the landing ship, tank.

Yet LST 388 is not just a sailor’s story but the story of a great landing ship, a ship that would sail with the largest armada in history during the invasion of Sicily. A…

Book cover of Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944

Flint Whitlock Author Of If Chaos Reigns: The Near-Disaster and Ultimate Triumph of the Allied Airborne Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944

From my list on D-Day airborne operations.

Why am I passionate about this?

Flint Whitlock spent five years on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army (1965-1970, including tours in West Germany and Vietnam), and is a qualified parachutist (Fort Benning, 1965). He has been an award-winning, full-time military historian since 2003, and has 14 books (mostly about WWII) to his credit. He has also been the editor of WWII Quarterly magazine since 2010 and gives battlefield tours for the Smithsonian, National Geographic, and other organizations.

Flint's book list on D-Day airborne operations

Flint Whitlock Why did Flint love this book?

One of my all-time favorite books; it inspired me to become a military historian. Through extensive interviews with the actual participants, Ambrose detailed how gilder-borne British commandos pulled off a nearly textbook example of how to take an enemy-held bridge. Whenever I lead tours to Normandy, I always make sure we stop at Pegasus Bridge and recount the valor of the British troops who performed what many said was impossible.

By Stephen E. Ambrose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pegasus Bridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author traces each step of the D-Day preparations and gives a minute by minute account of the conflict.

Book cover of Battle Diary: From D-Day and Normandy to the Zuider Zee and VE

Mark Zuehlke Author Of Juno Beach: Canada's D-Day Victory -- June 6, 1944

From my list on Canadians on their World War 2 service.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since the mid-1990s, I’ve written thirteen volumes in The Canadian Battles Series—more than a million words on the battles, campaigns, and experiences of my nation’s army during World War II. I started this because Canadians were usually no more than a footnote in the WWII histories written by American and British historians, despite having been the third-largest army serving alongside their armies in Italy and Northwest Europe. Realizing that the Canadian story would only be told if we wrote it ourselves, I embraced the task and continue to do so thirty years later.

Mark's book list on Canadians on their World War 2 service

Mark Zuehlke Why did Mark love this book?

On June 6, 1944, Charles (Charlie) Martin was twenty-four and one of the youngest Company Sergeant Majors in the Queen’s Own Rifles. He was also one of the first Canadian soldiers to pile out of a landing craft onto Juno Beach in the face of heavy German machine-gun fire. From that day on the beach to when he was finally wounded for the first time on April 16, 1945, Martin was always at the forefront of the battle. While an excellent account of his combat experience, Martin also deeply examines the role of a Company Sergeant Major in leading and running an infantry company during the war. And he provides detailed descriptions of how such a company conducted itself during specific types of combat from patrols, to set-piece assaults, to setting up defensive positions. For anyone wanting to understand the experience of soldiers in World War II, Battle Diary is…

By Charles Cromwell Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Battle Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fast-paced account by a soldier who was twice decorated. Charlie Martin, company sergeant-major in the Queen's Own, was with his beloved A Company in all of the significant Normandy actions.

Book cover of American Nightingale: The Story of Frances Slanger, Forgotten Heroine of Normandy

Cheryl Dellasega Author Of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

From my list on wellbeing for nurses.

Why am I passionate about this?

Juggling roles as a professor, nurse practitioner, author, mother, and grandmother would seem to limit my reading time but instead, I always have a book in my car, on my phone, or in my hands. I read broadly and enjoy all genres, from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to medical comics, as well as the creative essay columns nursing journals are beginning to embrace. In particular, I gravitate toward resources that help nurses create a positive relational workplace where their best efforts can be even more effective. Whether it’s ending the RN-RA (relational aggression) Rut, using poetry to express feelings about caregiving, or writing creatively about the many aspects of nursing, I am ready to read! And of course, the best part of reading is having a discussion with colleagues or friends about what exactly that book was about…

Cheryl's book list on wellbeing for nurses

Cheryl Dellasega Why did Cheryl love this book?

I confess to a passion for WW2 fiction and non-fiction, so this book was a no-brainer for me. Frances Slanger, a Polish Jew who immigrated and grew up in Boston, was the first nurse to due during the D-day invasion at Normandy. She left a legacy in writing that helps the author piece together her story and offer insight into what military nurses faced.

By Bob Welch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The heart-wrenching and inspirational WWII story of the first American nurse to die at the Normandy landings, the true account of a woman whose courage and compassion led to what a national radio show host in 1945 called "one of the most moving stories to come out of the war—a story of an army nurse that surpassed anything Hollywood has ever dreamed of."

She was a Jewish girl growing up in World War I-torn Poland. At age seven, she and her family immigrated to America with dreams of a brighter future. But Frances Slanger could not lay her past to…

Book cover of Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

The reign of King Stephen (1135–1154) was characterized by chaos and disorder, as he and his cousin Matilda fought over the succession to the English throne. This makes it a challenge to offer a coherent account, but Carl Watkins succeeds where others have failed in his short history of Stephen’s reign. The whole book, minus its academic endnotes, runs to under 90 pages, but it packs a considerable punch, thanks to Watkins’ elegant and enviable prose style. 

By Carl Watkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stephen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Stephen risked being seen as a man who never quite transcended the essential flawed-ness of his claim to be king. His actions betrayed uneasiness in his new skin'

Remembered as a time in which 'Christ and his saints slept', Stephen's troubled reign plunged England into anarchy. Without clear rules of succession in the Norman monarchy, conflict within William the Conqueror's family was inevitable. But, as this resonant portrait shows, there was another problem too: Stephen himself, unable to make good the transition from nobleman to king.

Book cover of Enemy North, South, East, West

Robert W. Baumer Author Of The Journey of the Purple Heart: A First Infantry Division Soldier’s Story from Stateside to North Africa, Sicily and Normandy during World War II

From my list on war memoirs and what makes them special.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was in my early 40’s I walked into the hospital room of a 99-year-old near-death relative who mistook me for my father’s brother who had been killed on the beachhead in Normandy during World War II. I was always a history buff, but this moment changed my life. I directed my energies to military history, starting with memoirs and writing a column for Armchair General magazine when it was in circulation. Published official histories (American Iliad, Aachen, Old Hickory) followed that were reliant on well-expressed memoirs written by participants, so full circle I’ve come back to my passion for writing, and reading war memoirs.

Robert's book list on war memoirs and what makes them special

Robert W. Baumer Why did Robert love this book?

Imagine being 20 years old, and a freshly minted lieutenant with just two weeks in the line. You are a forward observer for a 105mm artillery battalion. Your first duty position is atop a 314-meter-high hill at Mortain France. It is early August 1944 and Adolf Hitler sends four panzer divisions to Mortain to stop the Allied breakout from Normandy. First they must take that hill.

Weiss’s stunning book details how he and 700 other men held Hill 314 for five long days. Chronicled more recently by an Aurora Award-winning documentary on PBS it is one of those World War II personal memoirs one never forgets.

By Robert Weiss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enemy North, South, East, West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Germans launched their biggest counter-attack in France during WWII, the elite troops of the 2nd SS Panzer Division surrounded a battalion of less than 700 US infantry on top of a key hill near Mortain in Normandy. The American "Lost Battalion", equipped with very little food, medical supplies, ammunition, or anti-tank weapons, held out for sixty days. At the end of the battle, 277 of the riflemen were dead, wounded, or missing. Author Robert Weiss experienced those harrowing days of the war, directing much of the fire as a field artillery forward observer on the hill. As the…

Book cover of Selected Stories

Theodore Irvin Silar Author Of Five Moral Tales

From my list on short story novel collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University, where I studied and published articles on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, one of the greatest short fiction collections. I have written and published a number of short stories myself. I even won a contest for one of them. The tale told around the campfire is probably the oldest literary form there is, much older than the novel. The best short fiction, I believe, can “pack everything that a novel can hold into a story,” as Jorge Luis Borges said, and this is the kind of short fiction I believe I have found.

Theodore's book list on short story novel collections

Theodore Irvin Silar Why did Theodore love this book?

I like how de Maupassant, in this collection (like Balzac, only more succinctly), runs the gamut of society: two vagrants who live in a rowboat, milkmaids, nuns, soldiers, clerks, seamstresses, shop-owners, the elegant and fashionable, counts and countesses. Likewise he runs the gamut of tone from tragedy to romance to slapstick to farce to sophisticated wit. Each story is so different, one might suspect multiple authors, but for that unmistakable, to-the-point style ̶ and that perfect kicker at the end. De Maupassant is the wizard, some say the originator, of the modern short story. This is real literature in miniature.

By Guy de Maupassant, Brian Rhys (translator), Marjorie Laurie (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Selected Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A beautiful hardcover selection of the best works by one of the greatest short story writers in world literature

During his most productive decade, the 1880s, the French writer Guy de Maupassant wrote more than three hundred stories, notably including "The Necklace," "Boule de Suif," "The Horla," and "Mademoiselle Fifi." Marked by the psychological realism that he famously pioneered, the stories selected here take us on a tour of the human experience—lust and love, revenge and ridicule, terror and madness. Many take place in the author's native Normandy, but the settings range farther abroad as well, from Brittany and Paris…

Book cover of Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy

Serge Durflinger Author Of Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec

From my list on Canada’s Second World War - that aren’t memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read my first book on WWII when I was 8 years old. It was about the Battle of Britain and I’ve never looked back. I began specializing in 20th Century Canadian military history in very literally all its facets. Discussing the war with hundreds of Canadian veterans over the last half century has been immensely inspirational to me. I’ve obtained a Ph.D. in Canadian military history from McGill University, visited Canadian battlefields in Europe at least 15 times, worked as the WWII historian at the Canadian War Museum, and have published on many aspects of Canadian military history. For more than 30 years I have been able to teach these subjects to students.

Serge's book list on Canada’s Second World War - that aren’t memoirs

Serge Durflinger Why did Serge love this book?

Terry Copp is one of Canada’s foremost military historians and his towering knowledge is on full display in this brilliant study of Canada’s role in the 1944 Normandy Campaign. Copp interviewed dozens of veterans and visited Normandy some 20 times to walk the ground and see the unfolding of the battle through the men’s eyes.

Fields of Fire redresses an imbalance in our understanding of Canada’s battlefield performance in Normandy that several leading international and some Canadian scholars feel was underwhelming. But not Copp.

He minutely and compellingly re-examines and convincingly contextualizes Canadian generalship, the terrain over which the men fought, the nature of German defences, Canadian casualties of 18,000 in just ten weeks, including psychological casualties due to battle exhaustion, and other factors that oblige us to assess the Canadians’ performance more positively.

He is palpably proud of these men’s achievements and deeply sensitive to the cruel fates of…

By Terry Copp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fields of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fields of Fire offers a stunning reversal of accepted military history. Terry Copp challenges and refutes the conventional view that the Canadian contribution to the Battle of Normandy was a 'failure': that the allies won only through the use of 'brute force,' and that the Canadian soldiers and commanding officers were essentially incompetent. His detailed and impeccably researched analysis of what actually happened on the battlefield portrays a flexible, innovative army that made a major, and successful, contribution to the defeat of the German forces in just seventy-six days. Challenging both existing interpretations of the campaign and current approaches to…

Book cover of The Norman Empire

David Bates Author Of William the Conqueror

From my list on exploring important aspects of Medieval History.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated by the history of the period from 900 to 1250 as an undergraduate at the University of Exeter where I was supervised for a doctorate by Professor Frank Barlow. The subject of my thesis was Odo, bishop of Bayeux (1049/50-1097), a biography that introduced me to a multitude of subjects. That time stimulated a fascination with France and with the place of English history, British history, and the history of the Normans in a European context, as well as an interest in biography and individual lives.

David's book list on exploring important aspects of Medieval History

David Bates Why did David love this book?

Like Marc Bloch’s book, this helped me to grasp how to take an international perspective on the history of the central Middle Ages. In this case, its central theme was that we must think about Normandy and England as politically, socially, and economically joined together after 1066. It has inspired a lot that I have written and my teaching to students. See my The Normans and Empire for personal reflections.

Book cover of Harold the King

Geoff Boxell Author Of Woden's Wolf

From my list on stories for an historical fiction addict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love history as did my mother and her family. I am English by birth and, so, it is English history I am most interested in. To know who you are and where you are from is, to me, very important. At school history was the subject I excelled at. In my mature years I worked as a Business Unit Manager at a University and took history papers for amusement, but I never continued with a degree as BA papers were too basic and an MA and PhD too expensive. I did, however, write academic peer-reviewed papers that were published.

Geoff's book list on stories for an historical fiction addict

Geoff Boxell Why did Geoff love this book?

Harold is one of my heroes. I have many books about him, texts and novels, but this novel I feel captures him best. King Harold was a very complex man and a very competent man. Most remember him for losing at the Battle of Hastings and do not know just what a good organiser and general he actually was and how his previous actions prove this. Harold was a political man who knew when to push and when to stand back, when to compromise and when not to.

I can point you to textbooks and academic papers on Harold, as a man, an Earl, and as King, but Helen Hollick’s book is very well researched, and I am someone who has also done his homework on this period, and indeed produced an educational DD-ROM on the period. But why not let Hollick take all that research and information and weave…

By Helen Hollick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Harold the King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An epic retelling of the tide of events that led to the Norman conquest of England. This saga weaves together the history of a powerful family of noblemen with that of the aggressive bastard of Normandy, culminating in the fierce and tragic battle which changed the course of England's history.