By Martin K.A. Morgan
Published by Zenith Press, 2014
‘D-Day’, the June 6, 1944 invasion and battle for Normandy, France, possesses a rich and growing historiography. This anthology–in both book and film format–includes thoroughly-researched literature from well-respected historians including Stephen Ambrose, Rick Atkinson, Antony Beevor, Max Hastings, and Cornelius Ryan. While these prominent historians have contributed unparalleled research re-counted to readers via exquisite narrative, the literature has lacked a definitive photographic history on the subject. To this list of renowned historians we now might add the name Martin K.A. Morgan, author of The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Invasion.
Morgan has accomplished an extraordinary task by providing D-Day bibliophiles clear, vibrant images to relate with their studied narrative of the subject. Narrative that had previously left the reader to his or her own imagination of places such as Graignes, France; Montebourg, France; Portland and Weymouth Harbors in Dorset, England; or Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France. When we think of D-Day, we picture U.S. Army soldiers fighting and dying on Omaha and Utah Beaches. In his new book, Morgan has not omitted the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard or Army Air Force. He includes photographs which bring to light their involvement and heroic efforts.
Morgan’s eight chapters that make up The Americans on D-Day include: “The Buildup,” “From the Air,” “From the Sea,” “On the Beaches,” “Pointe du Hoc,” “La Fiere,” “Graignes” and “Aftermath.” Each chapter offers a breadth of incredible photography specific to the air, sea, and land events as they unfolded and their aftermath.
Chapter 4, “On the Beaches,” gives the reader a true feel for what Cornelius Ryan described in The Longest Day: “These obstacles—jagged triangles of steel, saw-toothed gatelike structures of iron, metal-tipped wooden stakes and concrete ones …” Relating images from The Americans on D-Day to Ryan’s work, the reader now has an accurate impression for the effort behind Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’. In D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose, the eminent historian writes: “By early afternoon a majority of the German pillboxes on the beach and bluff had been put out of action by destroyers, tanks, and infantry …” In The Americans on D-Day, Morgan now gives the reader powerful photographs of this post-landing destruction on Omaha and Utah Beaches.
The Americans on D-Day fills a long-ignored gap in the photographic history of D-Day. Morgan’s contribution makes an exceptional companion-book to existing literature by giving the reader an array of photographic reference. But make no mistake, Morgan has written invaluable narrative as he guides the reader from the massive build-up in England, armada crossing the English Channel, the struggle on the beaches, and finally inland in the days following 6 June.