Renewed Publication of The Longest Day

The Longest Day is a book about the Normandy landings of WWII, and is probably one of the most famous publications on the subject. Written by Cornelius Ryan, the book was first published in 1959. Now, with the 70th D-Day anniversary falling this year, it is being published once again. Ryan’s book, which was written with the help of over one thousand interviewees, is also known for the movie based upon it (which is also titled The Longest Day).

Due in part to the large number of interviews conducted in its writing, the book contains many stories of interest as they relate to the Normandy invasion. The new edition of the book will increase this aspect of the publication, as this version of The Longest Day includes even more material than the last version. It has included the information gained from additional discussions which have been recorded but have never seen the light of day as far as the public eye is concerned.

Ryan was present for the fighting in Normandy and already had enough experience that he easily could have written the book through his own eyes if he so chose. Instead, he decided to increase the historical value of The Longest Day by making it about more than just the fighting. His interviews and the writings based upon them examine the tragedy of D-Day from an incredibly human angle by focusing on how it affected people as individuals on both sides of the conflict, The Telegraph reports.

In the fifteen years between the beach landings and the publication of his book, Ryan spent his time not only talking to people about their experiences but also in doing the requisite research to ensure that everything he wrote in The Longest Day was the absolute truth. He wanted to make sure that all depictions of both courage and fear were fully accurate, leaving nothing to simple rumor no matter how great a story it would make.

The Longest Day shows people being people under the most dire of circumstances. It is not a simple collection of heroics, but also includes people who never fired their guns and one story of a man who accidentally parachuted onto a church and was unable to join the fray. One of the more prominent stories is that of Erwin Rommel, who was actually marching away from Normandy at the time of the invasion to deliver a gift for his wife. Ryan’s stories provide a much deeper glimpse into the world of war than any outline of military proceedings ever could. Already known for being both compelling and thorough, The Longest Day now includes more stories than ever, each of which is still relevant to the struggles of international conflict.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE