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Looking for some reading or viewing material to increase your background knowledge of D-Day before the 75th anniversary commemorations this coming June? These top five picks will both entertain and boost your knowledge.


“The Longest Day” by Cornelius Ryan: This book first published in 1959, retells the hours that preceded and followed the invasion of Normandy. The author’s painstaking research into the personal stories of hundreds of those who participated in the landings lies bare the emotional and physical impact it had on those involved. Although a true account, at times it reads like a novel.

“D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches” by Stephen E. Ambrose: This extremely well-regarded historian’s D-Day narrative begins at midnight on June 5-6 and ends 24 hours later. It covers the impact of the war across the most diverse segments of society — from Supreme Commander to a French child — and serves a testament to the extraordinary feats performed by common soldiers.


“Saving Private Ryan”: This film opens with a tense scene depicting the Normandy beach landing in which two brothers are killed in action. When the United States Army Chief of Staff learns that a third brother was killed in the Pacific, he sends out a party to find the last remaining brother and bring him home. Internet Movie Database (IMDb) users rate this movie the 27th best film of all time.

“The Longest Day”: based on the aforementioned book of the same name, this 1962 film won two Oscars and six nominations. Although the film was originally shot in black and white, color was added on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Its star-studded cast includes John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Paul Anka and others, although not all played major roles. The film’s German and French characters speak their own languages with English subtitles.

TV Series

“Band of Brothers”: This miniseries tells the story of "E" Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, from training in 1942 to the end of WWII. Episode 2, Day of Days, recounts how key characters land behind enemy lines in Normandy far from their intended drop zones and what transpires as they make their way back to the rendezvous point.

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