BOOK REVIEW: The First Wave

The First Wave by Alex Kershaw (Military History, 2019)

This book is a magnificent, honest and heartfelt triumph.

Kershaw, a best-selling history writer, presents the stories of an array of common soldiers and their field officers whose individual courage, smarts and determination enabled the vast invasion of Nazi-dominated Europe to secure the footholds allowing the rest of the Allied armies to flood into northern France and eventually go on to liberate multiple countries. Commandos, paratroopers, rangers and glider troops in mostly small, often seriously outnumbered and out-gunned units kept the enemy off-balance, seized and held key locations, silenced huge artillery that could’ve slaughtered thousands of the fighters who followed this multi-national, multi-faceted “First Wave” ashore, and broke out, leading the way off the blood-stained beachheads.

The author ably demonstrates and celebrates the courage of these men. But he doesn’t go all rah-rah, nor does he ignore mistakes that were made–or the fact that these were real people with faults and shortcomings.

Kershaw does a fine job keeping the many varied actions in perspective while presenting a chronological account of what happened. This is an exciting and detailed account. At once highly readable, masterfully presented and moving without excessive sentimentality.

Very highly recommended.

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