In time for the 75th anniversary, his new book SOLDIER, SAILOR, FROGMAN, SPY, AIRMAN, GANGSTER, KILL OR DIE: How the Allies Won D-Day is the gripping account of the first twenty-four hours of the D-Day invasion, as told by mostly unknown and unheralded members of the Allied—and Axis—forces by one of the world’s most lively historians.

An epic battle that involved 156,000 men, 7,000 ships and 20,000 armoured vehicles, D-Day was, above all, a tale of individual heroics – of men who were driven to keep fighting until the German defences were smashed and the precarious beachheads secured. This authentic human story – Allied, German, French – has never fully been told.

Giles Milton’s bold new history narrates the events of June 6th, 1944 through the tales of survivors from all sides: the teenage Allied conscript, the crack German defender, the French resistance fighter. From the military architects at Supreme Headquarters to the young schoolboy in the Wehrmacht’s bunkers, Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die lays bare the absolute terror of those trapped in the front line of Operation Overlord. It also gives voice to those who have hitherto remained unheard – the French butcher’s daughter, the Panzer Commander’s wife, the chauffeur to the General Staff.

This vast canvas of human bravado reveals “the longest day” as never before – less as a masterpiece of strategic planning than a day on which thousands of scared young men found themselves staring death in the face. It is drawn in its entirety from the raw, unvarnished experiences of those who were there.

Giles Milton’s new book narrates the day’s events from midnight to midnight through the tales of survivors from both sides. This authentic human saga has never fully been told. There’s Choctaw chief Turner Turnbull’s heroic stand against a Nazi counter attack. There’s Fräulen Eifler and her four teenage peers who served the Luffwaffe decoding messages, including the first signals of the Allies’ attack.

There’s a charming French competitive cyclist Guillaume Mercader who convinced the Germans to allow him to continue his training route on a forbidden road of Normandy Beach – where he scouted out every last bunker and minefield to send to the English each night. Who would have thought about the crucial role the meteorologists would play deciding on the day of the invasion; or the French saboteurs waiting behind enemy lines to blow up bridges and wreak general havoc when the fight began?


Such are the little-known voices of history, hitherto unheard, revealed in this gripping account of D-Day on the everyman’s level. This vast canvas of human bravado reveals “the longest day” as never before –less as a masterpiece of strategic planning than a day on which thousands of scared young men found themselves staring death in the face.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

GILES MILTON is a writer specializing in narrative history and the host of the Unknown History podcast. His books have been published in twenty languages and include the national bestseller Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (Picador 2017) and Nathaniel’s Nutmeg. He has written ten works of non-fiction, a thriller and two comic novels. Milton’s non-fiction works make extensive use of unpublished archival material, including personal testimonies, unpublished diaries, journals and letters to reveal the human story behind key moments in history. He lives in London.

 


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