To coincide with the 60th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy invasion during World War II, UMR military historian Dr. John C. McManus has published a unique new book that examines the battle from the American perspective.
The Americans at D-Day: The American Experience at the Normandy Invasion will be published in this month by Forge. It is the first in a two-volume set about the American experience at Normandy. The book begins in early 1944 when Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower received the order to enter Europe and start the invasion. "Things get real at this point," McManus says. The book, which focuses on what it was like for individual soldiers in the battle, concludes at the end of D-Day.
McManus, who is a military historian specializing in the American war effort during World War II, found in his research of the invasion of Normandy that there was a surprising lack of books that examined the entire U.S. perspective in the war. He also found that many of the books that do examine Americans in the war focus on D-Day.
"People have been too fixated on D-Day, as if once you get ashore, the war is won," McManus says. "But that is really only the very beginning. I would compare it to opening day in baseball. Opening day is big, there is a lot of hoopla and it’s great to win, but there are 161 other games. D-Day was just the very beginning of a long campaign in northwest Europe that was necessary to bring Nazi Germany to its knees, and the real story of that campaign is the emergence of the United States as the leading power in the world. That had a major impact on Europe’s history and it all began at Normandy."
McManus believes the battle of Normandy is the pivotal battle of the war in Europe. "It’s what sealed Germany’s fate and it’s what began really a new era in American history with the U.S. as a world power," he explains.
McManus says his second volume, The Americans at Normandy: The Summer of 1944–The American War from the Normandy Beaches to Falaise, is scheduled for publication on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. It begins on the evening of D-Day and concludes in mid- to late August 1944, at the end of the battle of Normandy.
McManus is currently in Europe working as a tour guide and historian with Stephen Ambrose Tours, leading groups to various beaches in Normandy for the 60-year commemoration ceremony, then throughout Europe touring other battle sites.
McManus began his career at UMR as a history instructor in 2000 and was named assistant professor in 2003. He teaches courses on the Civil War, World War II, the Vietnam War, U.S. military history and the American combat experience in the 20th century. He recently received the department’s first Faculty Excellence Award.
The Americans at D-Day: The American Experience at the Normandy Invasion is available from amazon.com and other online booksellers.