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JOSEPH BALKOSKI

Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy

Historian of the American Experience on D-Day
and
Chronicler of the 29th Infantry Division in World War II

Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts and a distinguished World War II veteran, wrote: Joseph Balkoski's book Beyond the Beachhead "is quite amazing... If you want to know what D-Day and Normandy were like, from private to general, from rifle to tank, from beginning to end, this is the book for you."

Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize winning author, noted: "What magnificent achievements! The 29th Division and the U.S. Army are lucky to have a historian of Joe Balkoski's stature and skill to tell the tale of combat in Western Europe from the perspective of both the ordinary GI and his leaders."

Donald Van Roosen, a wartime member of the 29th Division, stated, "The division is deeply indebted to you for your series of books and the dedicated work that went into them."

Joe was also described by USA Today as "The top living D-Day historian," by The Wall Street Journal as "a true maestro of original D-Day history," and by bestselling author Carlo D'Este as "The foremost historian of the D-Day experience."







Joe served for many years as Command Historian of the Maryland National Guard and the U.S. Army's 29th Infantry Division. He has authored several classic books on D-Day and the Normandy campaign, among them Beyond the Beachhead (the first of five volumes in the highly acclaimed 29th Division Quintet), and Omaha Beach. In 2004 he established the 29th Division Archives at Baltimore's Fifth Regiment Armory, which is now a major research center for World War II scholars, among them Rick Atkinson, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Liberation Trilogy.

CLICK HERE for Joe's full biography.

NOW AVAILABLE!
Volume IV in the 29th Division Quintet


Our Tortured Souls: The 29th Infantry Division in the Rhineland
November - December, 1944


Our Tortured Souls is the fourth volume in Joseph Balkoski's acclaimed history of the 29th Infantry Division in World War II. It begins on November 16, 1944, when the 29th began an offensive that the men hoped would bring them to the mighty Rhine River by Christmas. The enemy resisted with fanatical determination, however, and three weeks later, after an advance of only about five miles, the offensive petered out on the banks of the Roer River, thirty miles short of the Rhine. It is a sobering story of valor and sacrifice that no man who was involved would ever forget.

"What a magnificent achievement! The 29th Division and the U.S. Army are lucky to have a historian of Joe Balkoski's stature and skill to tell the tale of combat in Western Europe from the perspective of both the ordinary GI and his leaders." - RICK ATKINSON, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Guns at Last Light

CLICK HERE to read selected excerpts from Our Tortured Souls.

To order a signed copy of Our Tortured Souls by check or money order CLICK HERE.


Volume III in the 29th Division Quintet

From Brittany to the Reich: The 29th Infantry Division in Germany
September - November, 1944


"Excellent. Highly recommended...Balkoski writes tight, accurate, and interesting history books that deftly blend perspectives from the personal to the grand strategy level. I've yet to read a Balkoski book that hasn't brought me a fresh perspective and new information on World War II." - D. KNAPP, Amazon.com review

"An excellent example of what a unit history should be. It provides vivid descriptions both of combat and what life was like for Second World War GIs out of action. While focusing on the 29th, this history is an in-depth look at what the US Army in the ETO was really like at the 'sharp end.'" - DAVID ISBY, author of "Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires."

From Brittany to the Reich is the third volume in Joseph Balkoski's ongoing history of the 29th Infantry Division in World War II. It relates the division's role in the autumn fighting along the enemy's West Wall defenses near the city of Aachen, Germany. It is a riveting tale of brutal and frustrating combat, during which the GIs learned that Nazi Germany was far from beaten.

CLICK HERE to view a YouTube video on the men portrayed in From Brittany to the Reich.

CLICK HERE to read selected excerpts from From Brittany to the Reich.

To order a signed copy of From Brittany to the Reich by check or money order CLICK HERE.


If you wish to order books by check or money order, follow the instructions HERE.


LATEST NEWS: MAY 2014

Joe's Omaha Beach book was reviewed in the May 9, 2014, edition of The Wall Street Journal. Here is the full review: "Balkoski is sometimes referred to as the finest living D-Day historian. For my money, the title fits. Anyone who wants to know anything about Omaha Beach, where the fighting was heaviest and bloodiest, must begin with this foundational book by a true maestro of original history. The research is unparalleled and comprehensive enough to satisfy even the most skeptical scholar, yet the story is absorbing. The carnage of Omaha Beach comes to life with vivid contemporary descriptions from participants and witnesses, while the whole tale is deftly steered along by Balkoski's steady narration and his sense of the battle's larger significance. "History can provide at least a little solace that there was some meaning to it all," he writes movingly. "D-Day was the decisive chapter of a twentieth century Iliad." Indeed it was—and Balkoski is its Homer."

Joe is nearly finished writing Volume V, the last book in the five-volume series detailing the 29th Infantry Division's role in the last few months of World War II. That book, tentatively titled Touched by Fire: The 29th Infantry Division Victorious, will conclude when the last contingent of 29th Division troops finally returned to New York City in January 1946. Joe hopes to have the book in print by early 2015.

In March 2014, Joe accompanied two other D-Day historians, John McManus and Steve Zaloga, to Chicago to tape a D-Day documentary on the Omaha Beach landings. The film will air on Chicago Public Television in the summer or early fall of 2014.

Joe will be traveling to Normandy in June 2014 with several 29th Division D-Day veterans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord. We will conduct a ceremony on June 6, 2014, in the Vierville Draw to honor the 29th's fallen and to unveil a new statue dedicated to the 116th Infantry.

Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of An Army at Dawn and the recently published The Guns at Last Light, has asked Joe to post bi-monthly essays on his popular Liberation Trilogy website to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of D-Day. Joe's series of short pieces, titled The Road to D-Day, will address the key events in the buildup to Operation Overlord. The first essay -- "We've Got to Go to Europe and Fight" -- discusses the origins of the D-Day plan. To read the essays, click HERE.

Joe was also deeply honored to have been offered the opportunity to provide research and editing support for Rick's book, The Guns at Last Light, the third and last volume in the brilliant Liberation Trilogy. Check out pages 64 and 844 in The Guns at Last Night for some very kind references Rick made about Joe and his work. Thanks, Rick!

On October 19, 2013, Joe was honored by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the annual Baltimore City Mayor's Reception for his longtime commitment to Maryland and Baltimore history.

Joe's first book in the 29th Division quintet, Beyond the Beachhead, has been released in Europe in a French-language edition, published by our friends at Histoire et Collections. In summer 2014, Joe's two books on American involvement on D-Day, Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, will be released in French-language editions also.

Due to the closure of Google's "Checkout" application, we are sorry to report that we can no longer take credit card orders. To order any of Joe's books by check or money order, CLICK HERE

A spreadsheet listing the entire complement of personnel for the 115th, 116th, and 175th Infantry Regiments of the 29th Division from D-Day to V-E Day is now available on this website (see "Historical Information," below). Joe now possesses non-infantry units' morning reports as well, but they have not yet been placed on spreadsheets. Contact Joe for information.

Thanks for your interest!

DON'T FORGET!... If you're ever in Baltimore, please pay a visit to the 29th Infantry Division Museum and Archives in the Fifth Regiment Armory on (where else?) 29th Division Street. For information, see our Facebook page (below). Appointments are required. Call 410-576-1496. Thanks!


Volume II in the 29th Division Quintet

From Beachhead to Brittany: The 29th Infantry Division at Brest
August - September, 1944



From Beachhead to Brittany: The 29th Infantry Division at Brest is the long-awaited sequel to Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy. After a brutal hedgerow campaign, the Allies broke out of Normandy and raced east toward Paris. But the top brass had other plans for the battle-hardened 29th Division, which had landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day and fought fiercely for every foot of ground in Normandy. The 29th must now turn west and seize the vital port of Brest, at the far western corner of Brittany. The troops expected the effort to take a week. It would instead last almost four.

CLICK HERE to read selected excerpts from From Beachhead to Brittany.

To order a signed copy of From Beachhead to Brittany by check or money order CLICK HERE.


HISTORICAL INFORMATION, 29th INFANTRY DIVISION

NEW! CLICK HERE for a complete roster of the 116th Infantry Regiment based on company Morning Reports, June 1944 - May 1945.

CLICK HERE for a complete roster of the 175th Infantry Regiment based on company Morning Reports, June 1944 - May 1945.

CLICK HERE for a complete roster of the 115th Infantry Regiment based on company Morning Reports, June 1944 - May 1945.

CLICK HERE for historical information on the 29th Infantry Division, including a list of all commanders down to company level on D-Day, as well as a list of all 29th Division armories upon its call-up on Feb. 3, 1941.

CLICK HERE to view copies of the 29th Division's renowned wartime newsletter, 29, Let's Go!

CLICK HERE to view modern-day photos of 29th Infantry Division landing sites on Omaha Beach as described in Omaha Beach and Beyond the Beachhead.

CLICK HERE to view modern-day photos of 29th Infantry Division battle sites in Normandy in the post-D-Day period as described in Beyond the Beachhead.

CLICK HERE to view modern-day photos of 29th Infantry Division battle sites in the St. Lo area as described in Beyond the Beachhead.

COMMENTS ON JOSEPH BALKOSKI'S WORKS:

Volume I in the 29th Division Quintet

Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy
(2005 edition with new chapter on liberation of Vire)

"A glorious retelling of a brave invasion. . . . A riveting tale." -The Baltimore Sun

"A vital contribution to World War II literature." -Harold P. Leinbaugh, author of The Men of Company K

"Beyond the Beachhead is one of the best accounts I have read on the preparation and execution of the D-Day invasion. It has been an enormous resource for me in preparing speeches relating to the Normandy invasion." -John O. Marsh, Jr., former Secretary of the Army

"Surely one of the best works in the field I have ever read. The research is obviously exhaustive and I am most envious of the brilliant writing style and ability to tie the various elements together with superb effect." -Colonel John English, author of A Failure in Command: The Canadian Army in Normandy

"I could not put this book down . . . If you have a taste for Normandy books, read this last, all the rest will not measure up after." -Captain Mitch Reed, Amazon.com Book Reviewer

CLICK HERE to read selected excerpts from the new 2005 edition of Beyond the Beachhead.

To order a signed copy of Beyond the Beachhead by check or money order CLICK HERE.


Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944


"The best D-Day related book I have read ... A must for any World War II book collection." -Tom Birdsong, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Riveting ... A delight to read and beautifully written." -Fred Barnes, editor of The Weekly Standard

"An amazing book." -Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Scarborough Country

"Balkoski has fingertip command of his sources and a sense of the dramatic that never loses touch with the brutal realities of combat." -Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel

CLICK HERE to read selected excerpts from Omaha Beach.

To order a signed copy of Omaha Beach by check or money order CLICK HERE.


Utah Beach: The Amphibious and Airborne Operations on D-Day, June 6, 1944


"First-class history, impeccably researched and skillfully written by the foremost historian of the D-Day experience." -Carlo D'Este, author of the bestseller Decision in Normandy

"Balkoski has produced a superb book ... His previous works and unaparelled research give him a depth of knowledge and an understanding of the invasion that is rarely found. These credentials make Balkoski uniquely qualified to author this highly acclaimed work." -Colonel James Oman, US Army War College Parameters magazine

"Joseph Balkoski has done it again ... His method of using unit histories and after-action-reports provides an unvarnished look at the action." -Kevin Hymel, Army magazine

CLICK HERE to read selected excerpts from Utah Beach.

To order a signed copy of Utah Beach by check or money order CLICK HERE.


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List of Books by Joseph Balkoski
  • NEW! OUR TORTURED SOULS: The 29th Infantry Division in the Rhineland, November-December 1944 (Volume IV in 29th Division quintet, now available!)
  • FROM BRITTANY TO THE REICH: The 29th Infantry Division in Germany, September-November 1944 (Volume III in 29th Division quintet)
  • FROM BEACHHEAD TO BRITTANY: The 29th Infantry Division at Brest, August-September 1944 (Volume II in 29th Division quintet)
  • OMAHA BEACH: JUNE 6, 1944 (Volume I in US Army on D-Day series)
  • UTAH BEACH: The Amphibious and Airborne Assault on D-Day (Volume II in US Army on D-Day series)
  • BEYOND THE BEACHHEAD: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy (Volume I in 29th Division quintet, updated 2005 edition, with new chapter on the 29th Division's liberation of Vire!)
  • Coming in 2014! THEY WHO HAVE BORNE THE BATTLE: The 29th Infantry Division Victorious, January-May 1945 (Volume V in 29th Division quintet)
  • THE CLAY PIGEONS OF ST. LO, by Glover Johns (new 2002 edition with Foreword by Joseph Balkoski)
  • THE MARYLAND NATIONAL GUARD: A History of Maryland's Military Forces, 1634-1991
  • Simon and Schuster's D-DAY ENCYLOPEDIA (contributor)
  • THE GREATEST THING WE HAVE EVER ATTEMPTED: Essays on the Normandy Campaign (contributor)

    Links

  • 29th Infantry Division Archives Facebook Page
  • Official 29th Infantry Division Archives
  • Maryland Military Historical Society
  • 29th Division Association
  • Normandy Allies