The Longest Day (book)

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The Longest Day
Author Cornelius Ryan
Language English
Subject Normandy landings
Genre World War II history
Publication date
1959

The Longest Day is a book by Cornelius Ryan published in 1959, telling the story of D-Day, the first day of the World War II invasion of Normandy. It includes details of Operation Deadstick, the coup de main operation by gliderborne troops to capture both Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge before the main assault on the Normandy beaches. It sold tens of millions of copies in eighteen different languages.[1]

The book is not a dry military history, but rather a story about people, and reads at times like a novel. It is based on interviews with a cross-section of participants, including U.S., Canadian, British, French and German officers and civilians.

The book begins and ends in the village of La Roche-Guyon. The book refers to the village as being the most occupied village in occupied France and states that for each of the 543 inhabitants of La Roche-Guyon there were more than 3 German soldiers in the village and surrounding area. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel commander-in-chief of Army Group B had his headquarters in the castle of the village which was the seat of the Duc de La Rochefoucauld.

Ryan's book is divided into three parts: the first part is titled The Wait, the second part is named The Night and the third part is named The Day. The book includes a section on the casualties of D-Day and also lists the contributors including their service details on the day of the invasion and their occupations at the time the book was first published.

Researchers spent almost three years locating survivors of D-Day and over 3000 interviews were undertaken in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France and Germany. 383 accounts of D Day were used in the text of the book.

Senior Allied officers who assisted the author included General Maxwell D. Taylor, Lieutenant General James M. Gavin, Lieutenant General Sir Frederick E. Morgan and General Sir Richard Nelson Gale. German officers who assisted with the book included Generaloberst Franz Halder, Hauptmann Hellmuth Lang and General der Infanterie Günther Blumentritt. The author also used Allied and German post action reports, War diaries, histories and official records.

On 6 June 1965, the author published an article "More of The Longest Day" on Reader's Digest as a supplement.[2]

Cornelius Ryan dedicated his book for all the men of D Day.

The book takes its name from a comment made by Erwin Rommel to his aide Hauptmann Helmuth Lang on 22 April 1944: "...the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive...the fate of Germany depends on the outcome...for the Allies, as well as Germany, it will be the longest day."

The Longest Day is also the name of a 1962 film based on the book, featuring many star actors.

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Shapiro (May / June 2010). "The Reporter Who Time Forgot". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  2. ^ "Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers". Manuscript Collection. Retrieved 2013-12-23.