D-Day Movies and Reading

May 25, 2023

Paul Kay

Are you a traveler looking for destinations, attractions, or new vacation ideas? Have you ever been to France where D-Day happened? Before I travel to a country I’ve never visited, I try to do some research. D-Day, also known as the Normandy landings, was a military operation that took place on June 6, 1944, during World War II. It was a crucial turning point in the war as it marked the beginning of the Allies' invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. What are good movies about D-Day?  I put together a selection of what movies to watch that I think you would enjoy.

Our Reading series is provided as a supplement to our posts. Whenever we travel, we like to learn as much as we can about our destination. Since we’ve read books and watched movies we've learned a lot. Hopefully some of these might give you a more in-depth and entertaining view of the topic you just enjoyed.


There are plenty of great movies to watch to soak up some history on D-Day. Here are a few of our favorites. I included IMDB ratings as well.

Ike - Countdown to D-Day

Tom Selleck goes bald to star as General Dwight D. Eisenhower in this excellent film recounting the 90 days leading up to the invasion of Normandy by the Allied forces. Eisenhower had a difficult job to bring about D-Day as an international plan. He needed diplomacy, strategy, tact and the ability to make hard decisions. He even had to find a way to work with the enormous ego of General Patton.

IMDB 7.1


This movie was made in the 70’s and it focuses on the young soldiers getting ready for D-Day. The film artfully mixes real WWII footage with black and white scenes of the actors. The focus of the movie is the human element, but it also shows the types of military weapons used at the time including a barbed wire removal vehicle.

IMDB 7.1

The Longest Day

I remember seeing this movie growing up. It had a terrific cast and was released in 1962. The cast included John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Eddie Albert, Red Buttons and Paul Anka. It shows D-Day from multiple perspectives including the French Resistance, the Allies and the German commanders. The film won 2 Oscars.

IMDB 7.7

Saving Private Ryan

Stephen Spielberg’s classic movie won 5 academy awards in 1998 including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actor. D-Day had a profound impact on Spielberg early in his career. When he was filming his movie Duel in Europe, he saw people at Omaha beach that were sobbing in front of headstones in the American cemetery. 

The movie starts with D-Day with the 2nd Ranger Battalion. It’s about that day and a subsequent initiative to go out and find Private Ryan. I don’t want to give too much about the plot so no spoilers here. 

IMDB 8.6


This movie is probably not one you have heard of. The film incorporated a large amount of both German and Allied film footage to tell the story. It was made in 1950 and it was hugely popular with D-Day veterans and their family.

IMDB 6.7

Band of Brothers

This was an HBO series so it will take you a while to see it all since the running time is 11 hours and 45 minutes between the movie and the extras.  D-Day is part of the movie since it starts in 1942 but it follows the 56th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division all the way to the end of WWII. It was co-executive produced by none other than Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

IMDB 9.4


Brave Men by Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle was a newspaper writer and famous war correspondent. Broadcasters like Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley had not arrived on TV yet. It was the newspaper that brought the war to the people. Pyle was the “everyman” who followed the soldiers everywhere they went and asked questions when he could. This is a very gritty book about D-Day and the soldiers that were there.

D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor

This is a book that doesn’t stop at D-Day. It continues for the weeks and weeks that were required to keep gaining ground and moving the Germans away from Normandy.  Mr. Beevor is quite the historian. He has written more than thirty books and published them in multiple languages. This is a very comprehensive book about what it took to capture Normandy.

The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day by Cornelius Ryan

This book, published in 1959 was so successful that they made a movie about it. You probably already know that if you’ve looked above for the recommended movies. Cornelius Ryan was at D-Day and through more than 1,000 interviews from high-ranking Allied and German officers to the paratroopers who landed in Normandy before dawn. He interviewed the Allied soldiers who landed and the German soldiers who defended the coast. 

Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy by Max Hastings

This book’s focus is on the terrible human cost from the D-Day campaign. The book covers ten weeks of battle so it’s much more than just D-Day. However, he writes as a contrarian. Most other books are talking about bravery, sacrifice and the courage of the victorious Allied forces. Hastings tells a story of how unprepared some of the forces were and how they were overmatched by the well-trained German troops. The book can’t change the outcome of the D-Day campaign – the Allies were victorious, eventually. His point of view throughout is quite skeptical about Allied superiority and some of his observations are quite accurate. So, if you are looking for a contrarian’s view to D-Day, this might be the book for you.

Sand and Steel: The D-Day Invasion and the Liberation of France by Peter Caddick-Adams 

Peter Caddick-Adams has researched D-Day, and the Normandy campaign, for decades. Research probably should have been his middle name. He combed all of the archives, talked with the soldiers that were there and walked all of the Normandy sites to verify and get the feel of the area.

It’s more than 1,000 pages and very comprehensive. This is probably the most definitive book on D-Day that has been written to date.

D-Day Bombers: The Veterans' Story: RAF Bomber Command and the US Eighth Air Force Support to the Normandy Invasion 1944 by Steve Darlow

Many of the D-Day stories are focused on the brave men who landed on the beach. This book talks about the airmen including five RAF and three USAAF aircrews. The air assault was vital along with the Navy and Army. He even gathered interviews from French civilians that were witnesses to what happened. It’s definitely a good read and a different perspective.

Check out our post on our D-Day tour here and you can see plenty of reasons why you might want to learn more about D-Day or even visit Normandy like we did.

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