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In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, a small detachment of British airborne troops stormed the German defense forces and paved the way for the Allied invasion of Europe. Pegasus Bridge was the first engagement of D-Day, the turning point of World War II. This gripping account of it by acclaimed author Stephen Ambrose brings to life a daring mission so crucial that, had it been unsuccessful, the entire Normandy invasion might have failed. Ambrose traces each step of the preparations over many months to the minute-by-minute excitement of the hand-to-hand confrontations on the bridge. This is a story of heroism and cowardice, kindness and brutality -- the stuff of all great adventures.
This was a pretty good book by Stephen Ambrose but not one of my favorites.read more
Stephen E. Ambrose is a master storyteller. He makes it so easy, interviewing people then write about them. Imagine the editing works, placing one story after another, in the way that the readers would better understand and imagine. Pegasus Bridge is not as special as Citizen Soldiers or Band of Brothers (BoB), but it still delivers.The story is about a gliderborne unit of the British Ox and Bucks Light Infantry Regiment, 6th Airborne Division, commanded by Major John Howard, who captured two bridges (one rechristened Pegasus) between Bénouville and Ranville, Normany, and held them until reinforcements came. This is claimed to be the first assault by the Allies as well as the first combat engagements between the opposing parties in Normandy during D-Day. The troops were the first who liberated a French home (whose owners were spies working for the Resistance) and one of its platoon leaders was the first casualty from the Allies side in D-Day. Yes, Howard’s D Company indeed scored many ‘firsts’.I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when I read the first pages of the book. I thought I was going a read a book about paratroopers. Blame my silly infatuation on paras due to BoB. I was a bit indoctrinated as well by the impression in BoB that gliderborne troopers were not as qualified and disciplined as the paras. Well, that is not the case with Howard’s men. It surely took lots of courage to surrender your fate on a Horsa whose movement and bearing were not entirely up to your own pilot, but the bomber towing your glider. Paras are more mobile because they have their own chutes.Along with the glider pilots, the sappers, the paras, Howard and his troopers managed to surprise the Germans who, just like what happened during the D-Day sea invasion, showed a very lousy and ineffective chain of command and communication. It sometimes frustrates me (seriously) to read their ridiculous mistakes in D-Day (thanks to the Fuhrer) whereas they had legendary field marshals like Rommel and Von Rundstedt to lead.This feat was very influential to the outcome of D-Day, since it blocked the way of a strong panzer division, whose counterattack could destroy the advancing seaborne invaders.The training part of the book was a bit boring unfortunately. [Ambrose used the same formula with BoB and his other book Wild Blue, i.e. giving many details about the training phase:] I’d like to read more about the action part but it only covers half of the book. I noted that Howard’s D Company was the toughest SOBs in the whole airborne division due to their fanaticism over sports and physical endeavors, but that’s about the only interesting fact I found. More detailed actions, please.Apparently, this story appeared a bit in the movie version of The Longest Day. Hell, I dislike the movie so much I can not remember anything (but the book is super excellent, mind you). The actor who played John Howard was in fact a part of the operation, a member of the 7th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment who reinforced the British troops in the area.Anyway, this is still recommended for military buffs, especially the ones who want some light reading or curious about events that are not (presumably) widely covered by other battle accounts.read more
Definitely a good read, but Ambrose typically overplays the role played by D Company during the later D-Day battle and indeed the Normandy campaign. His habit of not acknowledging sources is also an irritation, as are the many minor factual errors in the book.A good read, but you'd be better off with Harclerode's divisional history of the 6th, or Denis Edwards autobiography.read more
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