Know D-Day like never before

July 14, 2008

Bobz Book Reviews

“THE STEEL WAVE,”
by Jeff Shaara

You’ll feel like you’re in on the planning of the Normandy invasion with Ike and Monty.
You’ll ride the landing craft with the foot soldiers as they near Omaha Beach.
You’ll drop from the sky with the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne.
And you be there as so many of the men who landed in France on June 6, 1944 died in order to free the world from tyranny.

The middle novel of Jeff Shaara’s three-part World War II saga rivals the film “Saving Private Ryan” for realism. War is hell, as we’ve heard, but Shaara pounds in the point.

His reader-gripping fiction puts you right in the violence of the battles, the mental strain of those leading the attack that started the end of Hitler’s Third Reich, the political hurdles that challenged Eisenhower and his foe across the English Channel, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.

So much has been written about D-Day, so much known through film, that Shaara’s work in a couple of instances seemed less than original. In fact, when they made those great war epics, good screen writers may have been using some of the same source material that Shaara did for “The Steel Wave.” Insight into Rommel may be the most enlightening chapters.

But where this book is at its best is jumping from the plane and walking in the boot steps of Sgt. Jesse Adams, a real-life soldier whose ordeal leading a platoon as it fights its way across the hedgerow country of France is what brings drama and punch to “The Steel Wave.” Finding out what happens to Sgt. Adams and many of the other players in the Normandy invasion is a fitting end to a very nice read. — bz

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

View all posts by Bob Zyskowski