Beyond the Beach

The Allied War Against France
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Published:April 15, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Beyond the Beach by Naval Institute Press.

An important rethinking of the Normandy war narrative

Beyond the Beach examines the Allied air war against France in 1944. During this period, General Dwight David Eisenhower, as Supreme Allied Commander, took control of all American, British, and Canadian air units and employed them for tactical and operational purposes over France rather than as a strategic force to attack targets deep in Germany. Using bombers as his long-range artillery, he directed the destruction of bridges, rail centers, ports, military installations, and even French towns with the intent of preventing German reinforcements from interfering with Operation Neptune, the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches. Ultimately, this air offensive resulted in the death of over 60,000 French civilians and an immense amount of damage to towns, churches, buildings, and works of art. This intense bombing operation, conducted against a friendly occupied state, resulted in a swath of physical and human destruction across northwest France that is rarely discussed as part of the D-Day landings. 

This book explores the relationship between ground and air operations and its effects on the French population. It examines the three broad groups that the air operations involved, the doctrine and equipment used by Allied air force leaders to implement Eisenhower’s plans, and each of the eight major operations, called lines of effort, that coordinated the employment of the thousands of fighters, medium bombers, and heavy bombers that prowled the French skies that spring and summer of 1944. Each of these sections discusses the operation's purpose, conduct, and effects upon both the military and the civilian targets. Finally, the book explores the short and long-term effects of these operations and argues that this ignored narrative should be part of any history of the D-Day landings.

List Price: $34.95
Member Price: $20.97
Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 376 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1612518737
  • ISBN-13: 9781612518732
  • Product Dimensions: 6.13 X 9.25 in
  • Shipping Weight: 23.68 oz
  • "This is an important book and essential reading for those wishing to understand France today, and more specifically the actions of General de Gaulle." —The NAVY Magazine
  • "Stephen Bourque's 'Beyond the Beach' is a well-conceived, well-argued, and well-written exploration of the last major neglected corner of the aerial conflict over western Europe. An indispensable book for anyone interested in the air war, it manages at the same time to earn that precious moniker few other works attain: an important book about World War II." —Thomas Alexander Hughes, author of Over Lord: General Pete Quesada and the Triumph of Tactical Air Power in World War II and Admiral Bill Halsey: A Naval Life
  • "This book contains a sobering revelation: over 60,000 French civilians died as collateral victims of Allied bombing during the liberation of France in 1944. Stephen Bourque’s careful, thorough and moving account gives a voice to all involved in this forgotten tragedy: the Allied planners, the airmen, and the unfortunate civilians." —Robert O. Paxton, professor emeritus of history, Columbia University
  • "Stephen Bourque’s exciting new book, Beyond the Beach, fills gaps in the story about the Allied bombing campaign in support of the Normandy invasion and subsequent offensive. Not only does he refute the existing narrative that the Allied bombing effort was wildly successful, but he also adds a new dimension to the story by exploring the bombing’s impact on the local civilian populations. In addition to chronicling the destruction to the physical landscape, Bourque also includes personal stories of people whose loved ones and neighbors did not survive the Allies’ 'liberation' operation." —Mary Kathryn Barbier, author of D-Day Deception: Operation Fortitude and the Normandy Invasion, Associate Professor of History, Mississippi State University
  • "For decades after World War II the grim story of Allied bombing of friendly populations in Europe has been missing from the narrative of the 'Good War'. Stephen Bourque has rescued from obscurity one of the most damaging of those campaigns, against French towns, railways and ports in support of D-Day. It should make us all rethink the Allies' uncritical claim to hold the moral high ground in the war. This is a disturbing and important book. Operation Overlord will never seem the same after reading it." —Richard Overy, author of The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945
  • "With Beyond The Beach, Stephen Bourque drives us beyond the myth of a victory only based on justice and heroism. Through a brilliant and accurate global analysis the author reminds us that under the Allied bombs were not only German targets but real people, real villages, real cities. And the heavy price French civilians have paid to Freedom!" —Paul Le Trevier, French historian, expert in Allied bombing over Normandy

After twenty years of enlisted and commissioned service in the U.S. Army, Stephen A. Bourque obtained his PhD at Georgia State University and taught history at several military and civilian schools and universities, including the School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he is professor emeritus.

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From the Press

27 February - Book Talk

Tue, 2018-02-27

28 February - Book Talk

Wed, 2018-02-28

Cathryn J. Prince

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