What happened to the Allied armies in Normandy in the months after D-Day, 1944? Why, after the initial success of the landings, did their advance stall a few miles inland from the beaches? Why did the British take so long to capture Caen? Why did the US infantry struggle so much in the bocage south of Omaha beach? Who was right about the conduct of the land campaign - Eisenhower or Montgomery? How did the Germans, deprived of air support, manage to hold off such a massive Allied force for more than two months? And if Enigma was allowing the Allies to read German battleplans, why did things go wrong as often as they did?
THE BATTLE OF NORMANDY re-examines the demands and difficulties of the campaign and sheds new light on both with the aid of accounts from veterans on both sides. (Oral history forms a large part of the book.) It also analyses in detail the plans and performance of the commanders involved: Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, Montgomery, Crerar and, of course, Rommel. Controversial and at times catastrophic, the Battle of Normandy was the last great set-piece battle in history and is long overdue for reassessment.
Author of an earlier groundbreaking work on Nazi medical horrors, Proctor began this book after discovering documents showing that the Nazis conducted the most aggressive antismoking campaign in modern history. Further research revealed that Hitler's government passed a wide range of public health measures, including restrictions on asbestos, radiation, pesticides, and food dyes. Nazi health officials introduced strict occupational health and safety standards, and promoted such foods as whole-grain bread and soybeans. These policies went hand in hand with health propaganda that, for example, idealized the Führer's body and his nonsmoking, vegetarian lifestyle. Proctor shows that cancer also became an important social metaphor, as the Nazis portrayed Jews and other "enemies of the Volk" as tumors that must be eliminated from the German body politic.
This is a disturbing and profoundly important book. It is only by appreciating the connections between the "normal" and the "monstrous" aspects of Nazi science and policy, Proctor reveals, that we can fully understand not just the horror of fascism, but also its deep and seductive appeal even to otherwise right-thinking Germans.