- Published: 2012
- Number of pages: 232 pages
- Format: Epub
- File Size: 29.06 MB
- Authors: Walter Lord
The true story of the World War II evacuation portrayed in the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk, by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Day of Infamy.
In May 1940, the remnants of the French and British armies, broken by Hitler’s blitzkrieg, retreated to Dunkirk. Hemmed in by overwhelming Nazi strength, the 338,000 men gathered on the beach were all that stood between Hitler and Western Europe. Crush them, and the path to Paris and London was clear.
Unable to retreat any farther, the Allied soldiers set up defense positions and prayed for deliverance. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an evacuation on May 26, expecting to save no more than a handful of his men. But Britain would not let its soldiers down. Hundreds of fishing boats, pleasure yachts, and commercial vessels streamed into the Channel to back up the Royal Navy, and in a week nearly the entire army was ferried safely back to England.
Based on interviews with hundreds of survivors and told by “a master narrator,” The Miracle of Dunkirk is a striking history of a week when the outcome of World War II hung in the balance (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.).
Review “Stirring . . . The difference between the Lord technique and that of any number of academic historians is the originality of his reportage. . . . Contemporary history at its most readable.” —The New York Times “Amazing and unexpected heroism . . . well worth reading.” —Milwaukee Sentinel “A master narrator.” —Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:
⭐ I knew what happened at Dunkirk, but I did not know the details. With the release of the movie “Dunkirk,” I decided to read more about it before watching the movie. I selected “The Miracle of Dunkirk: The True Story of Operation Dynamo” by Walter Lord since it was the book that came most highly recommended by reviewers.Initially, “The Miracle of Dunkirk” was a bit confusing. As an American, some of the military terms, acronyms, and colloquial British words and phrases had me confused. Walter Lord was also able to transfer the utter confusion and chaos of the British military and political leaders about Dunkirk to his readers. After a few chapters, my confusion about what was happening turned into organized chaos and the events at Dunkirk became clearer.The fact that 338,000 British and French troops were rescued is a “miracle”. The details that Walter Lord gives puts the readers in the midst of the chaos. There were heroes. There were cowards. The fog of war caused numerous friendly fire casualty. The execution of British POWs by the Nazis did not surprise me. I was, however, surprised at the recounting of British officers shooting and killing their own men who deserted their defensive position.The evacuation of Dunkirk is seen as a British “miracle,” but Walter Lord’s portrayal of the French troops and their commanders gives a good background on their important contribution to the “miracle.” Without the French troops delaying the German advance, the “miracle” would not have happened. The image of all the French troops abandoned on the beaches of Dunkirk as the last rescue ships leave is haunting.I haven’t yet seen the move “Dunkirk,” but I think I will appreciate and better understand what happened more now that I’ve read Walter Lord’s “The Miracle of Dunkirk.”I read the Kindle edition. The maps, diagrams, and photos on the Kindle edition don’t have the best resolution so they’re hard to read.
⭐ I alternately loved and dreaded this book. Many chapters felt like long interludes between the storyline I sought. Consequently I speed read several long chapters in the middle.His comprehensive reporting of a highly complex story are understandably tedious at times, at least for me.I loved his last chapter which highlighted a number of key lessons and takeaways from Dunkirk. It was, in my limited view, an early turning point that determined the nature of the remaining years of the conflict.The loss of over 100,000 French soldiers, unable to be transported, led to the fall of France, only two weeks later. I often wondered why their resistance was so small. Now I know.The activities at Dunkirk served to galvanize England’s resolve to fight. The returning troops were treated like heroes, much to Churchill’s dismay. He understood the worst was yet to come, but the rescue of 340,000 soldiers felt more like a victory to the British citizenry. Instead of sapping their resolve it increased it.Churchill’s inspirational speech about fighting in the air, on the beach, at home etc. was the conclusion of his Dunkirk report to parliament. It’s interesting how this rescue campaign changed the future of the world. This rescue’s legacy can not be overstated. France fell easily, Britain would be next. Then Russia would fall no doubt fall, and the world would be completely different than it is, largely because of Dunkirk.
⭐ Wow! Mr. Lord took piles of data–names, dates, times, tides, boat types, weaponry names–and turned them into a compelling story of bravery,courage and cowardice, determination, devotion, love of country and of comrade, grace, exhaustion, and finally of turning a disaster into as close as you can get, victory.I knew of the escape from Dunkirk,but all I knew was that hundreds of vesels large and small rescued the British Army from annihilation at Dunkirk early in WWII. Walter Lord brings that to short summary to vivid life in a way that grabbed me and would not let me go.After finishing the amazing story, I studied the acknowledgements, credits, and list of resources. Lord is the real deal of an historian and writer. I may go see the movie now, but it will likely be disappointing ater reading this.
⭐ I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written and researched book on Dunkirk. Walter Lord did a very convincing job of telling the story and delved into many of the facets that I had PRE-existing questions about such as 1) why did the panzers halt, 2) what happened to the BEF and French divisions covering the retreat, 3) how did they organize so many non-Navy boats so quickly, 4) where were the Spitfires and Hurricanes and 5) how did they get so many troops off the beaches/docks in so short of a time period and during Stuka attacks?I had just finished Horne’s “To Lose a Battle” so this was the perfect follow-up, especially as this book (and the Dunkirk movie a few years back) was a bit light in Operation Dynamo although it did cover the Encirclement very well. This book covered exactly what I wanted to know in regard to where the troops were and where the ships and planes were during during the 26 May-4 June time period. It also got into the key personalities involved from Churchill to Ramsay, Gort, Clouston, Wake-Walker, etc.I also wanted some of the detail on important facts like weather and tides and the impact on evacuations. I like the ship by ship research as the role played by smaller ships was incredible, especially on the beach loadings. The German decision-making was very interesting from how the panzer divisions were deployed to how the Luftwaffe was used and also the increasing focus on the Somme and Paris which seemed to snub the huge momentum to the coast that Guderian and Rommel has following the Meuse break-out.The role played by average citizenry during this operation was amazing and deserved to be told and told again. Many rushed to aid an army that needed them most at this critical juncture. Also, the French covered the BEF in a manner that has been rather unsung compared to the Maginot collapse. Key units played critical roles during this week and despite the British attempt to evacuate as many French as possible, between 30-40,000 were left behind. I also appreciated the role played by the BEF rearguard and the elite units that came out last like the Coldstream Guards and Green Howards. The French paid a larger price but they were directly fighting for their country. The BEF and Allies with Free French would regroup but it would take time. The Alliance was tricky to manage at times but personalities such as Eisenhower and Churchill were able to hold it together.The what Ifs surrounding Dunkirk are huge. What would have happened if Germany closed the noose right away and the impact on the overall war effort well before D-Day was even a thought. Germany would have been able to focus more solely on the Eastern Front. Many large questions to ponder. I wholly recommend this book for a top to bottom look at Dunkirk and why it probably deserves more attention for military historians and others who just like to read about ‘miracles.’
⭐ The Miracle of Dunkirk is about Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk by the British Expeditionary Force at the start of World War 2 after the rout of the French Marginot line.The book attempts to do what I think is pretty much an impossible job, a coherent narrative of an event from multiple simultaneous perspectives while providing personal interesting stories and anecdotes. As a result, I came away from the book feeling rather disjointed, as not everything came together.Compared to the Christopher Nolan film, the book lacks a central cohesive story. But of course, the book provides way more context and ties together actions from the command side as well as the actions of the rank and file. As a matter of fact, I think the film provides a misleading view of the events at Dunkirk.If you’ve read the book, the movie makes a lot more sense. If you’ve watched the movie, I think the book’s much better. Recommended.
⭐ This is great reading for the history buffs (especially WWII). Mr. Lord has done massive research (once again) to provide both the big picture, by interviewing and researching the various government sources, and the up close ‘personal’ stories from those ‘on the ground’ who were most affected by this massive event. The many triumphs and tragedies involved are uncountable; but Mr. Lord provides more than enough personal stories from both the ‘rescuers’ (many/most of whom were actually civilians) and the rescued’.Also there is very interesting information presented from the German records and some surviving military men. This presentation of historical events from both sides provides much needed information and helps explain how certain key things happened (especially Hitler’s famous halt order’) that helped tens of thousands more men to be rescued.It will be interesting to see how the new movie portrays all this, since it is impossible to cover any event of this magnitude in anywhere near complete fashion.
⭐ Great storytelling. I enjoy his writing style and individual stories approach in this and his other books, including the one on battle of Midway. Dunkirk wasn’t quite as simple as we learned back in history class – Churchill didn’t just address the nation and have every Englishman in a boat show up and pull the British army out overnight. This book details how close it was to complete catastrophe and tells the story of many heroes (at home in England and in Dunkirk) working tirelessly for days to pull it off. I also hadn’t realized how many naval casualties occurred in the process and how many destroyers and minesweepers were lost, nor how many troops had to be rescued a second and third time after embarking and losing their transport out from under them. I also did not realize how many French troops were saved (albeit belatedly and with some controversy). If you want to understand what really happened, this book fits the bill.
⭐ I recently saw the movie (newly released when I wrote this review) titled “Dunkirk” and didn’t think too highly of it. It was well made, but the focus was too narrow and didn’t paint a broad enough picture from an historical perspective. I almost felt the opposite of this book. There almost seemed to be too much here.What’s missing from this book though (and the movie) is why and how Dunkirk happened. Being that the event happened so long ago, I wouldn’t think most would be familiar of how the German army surprised everybody by burrowing through the Ardennes Forrest into France catching everyone off guard back in the Spring of 1940. There was nowhere for the English and French (who, even though war was declared several months prior, were still new to the actual battlefield) to go but north, and they could only run as far north as the English Channel. They were basically trapped.There is a lot of info packed into this thing from a personal perspective. The author obviously interviewed as many people involved as possible and includes brief snippets of all their stories. The soldiers (English, French, German, Belgian), the civilians, the private vessel owners, etc. and all of them get their 15 minutes of fame in this book. It’s rewarding to read about so many unique experiences, but it does get a bit overwhelming at times. One almost wishes that Walter Lord would have cut the personal stories by about 75% and told longer tales by fewer people. Or, better yet, maybe keep everything here, but not necessarily give us the names of every character involved. Sure, it’s great to see one’s name in print, but it tends to bog down the experience a tad. It’s simply a bit too much.Another challenge, for me at least, is that I read this on a Kindle. It saddens me that older books never transition that well to the electronic format in terms of illustrations and maps. Having maps for a book such as this is crucial. Oddly, when one tilts the Kindle horizontally to be able to better read the map, the illustration shifts 90 degrees as well. So the only way to read the maps in this e book are to keep the kindle straight while aligning your head sideways. Looks and feels uncomfortable.I’m griping an awful lot here, but these gripes really are minor. This book is a good detailed account of the week or so where the soldiers were stranded on the beach while the British government was doing everything to rescue as many people as possible. When one looks at how the circumstances all lined up, you can truly say that the event was literally a miracle. Had a few of these events (weather, an abundance of private vessels, Herman Goering’s ego, etc.) been slightly skewed, Dunkirk could have easily been a catastrophe that very well could have lost the war for the allies.The author also does a splendid job varying the viewpoints. We see the event from all different perspectives – friend and foe, military and civilian, and it’s easy to come away with a strong perception of how many of the events actually happened.I’ve never read anything else by this author, but apparently this type of narrative (recounting tragic events) is a strong suit of his. I would recommend the book, but I would briefly brush up on the history a few weeks prior to when the story actually takes place.
⭐ Walter Lord has written a detailed account of the famous evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (and substantial French forces) from entrapment at Dunkirk near the start of World War II. First, Lord’s account is an enjoyable and relatively easy read. The story is bracketed mainly from May 24th to June 3rd, 1940; and is an hour-by-hour account of the fighting, retreat, and seaborne extraction. Lord’s descriptions of the chaos, desperation, frustrations, and tragedies associated with war seem to be spot-on; and paint vivid pictures for the reader. He uses numerous short personal stories of the individuals involved (from interviews, diaries, letters, family accounts, etc.) to drive the points home. The willingness and heroics of ordinary British citizens to come to the aid of their armed forces is truly amazing. And Lord pulls no punches, with accounts of cowardice as well as heroism. His research was extensive and expert.Lord’s account will give you great insight into the British psyche. He was a prolific and award-winning history author, with books about the sinking of the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, the Alamo, an others. I truly recommend the book to anyone interested in this period’s history, or World War II.
⭐ This book is a meticulously-researched tale of a desperate operation which snatched a sort of “victory” from the German jaws of sure defeat.Yes, Dunkirk was militarily a stunning Nazi victory at one level. But thanks to guts, planning under fire and some blind luck, a quarter million British troops and a sizable group of French allies were spared to fight another day.This is more than a war story. It is an object lesson for how all levels of a nation working together – despite difference – pulled off a miracle. Oh, that we could all pull on the rope together these days, especially here in the U.S.This book reminds us all of how it was done, and is a worthy read.
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