Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy
Historian of the American Experience on D-Day
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 of The Liberation Trilogy, noted: "No one has written a better or more comprehensive history of a US Army division in World War II than Joe Balkoski in his five volumes on the 29th Division. The Last Roll Call is a powerful, splendid capstone to this exceptional achievement. The U.S. Army is lucky to have a historian of Joe's stature and skill to tell the story 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 Patrick O'Donnell as "one of America's premier military historians."
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.
Volume V in the 29th Division Quintet The Last Roll Call: The 29th Infantry Division Victorious
January 1945 - January 1946
The Last Roll Call is the fifth and final volume in Joseph Balkoski's acclaimed history of the 29th Infantry Division in World War II. It begins on January 1, 1945, with the 29th Division poised to execute a major offensive across the Roer River into the heart of Nazi Germany. For the next four months, the 29ers battled fierce, yet crumbling enemy resistance until they met the Red Army on the Elbe River in early May. The 29th went on to carry out difficult occupation duties in Bremen, and the story concludes with the return of both living and dead 29ers to the United States.
"No one has written a better or more comprehensive history of a U.S. Army combat division in World War II than Joe Balkoski in his five volumes on the 29th Infantry Division. The Last Roll Call is a powerful, splendid capstone to this exceptional achievement." - RICK ATKINSON, author of The Guns at Last Light
"Joseph Balkoski completes his magisterial history of the 29th with his customary authority, verve, and artistry. This is a tour de force of historical writing. The narrative is so compelling that at times it brought tears to my eyes. No one understands the World War II infantry soldier better than Balkoski." - JOHN McMANUS, author of The Dead and Those About to Die: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach
"Endlessly absorbing. Joe Balkoski shows us again that he is the master of that rare and rich combination of narrative skill which allows readers to get inside the heads of commanders and at the same time feel the bullets the lowest-ranking 29er took during combat." - ROBERT BAUMER, author of Aachen: The US Army's Battle for Charlemagne's City in World War II.
CLICK HERE to read selected excerpts from The Last Roll Call.
To order a signed copy of The Last Roll Call by check or money order CLICK HERE.
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, 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 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: AUGUST 2015
Joe has completed The Last Roll Call: The 29th Infantry Division Victorious, which is now available and can be ordered off this website.
Joe and his daughter Leah traveled to Normandy in June 2014 with six 29th Division D-Day veterans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. It was a magnificent experience, and the gratitude of the Norman people to their liberators was emotional and overwhelming. The French translations of Joe's books Beyond the Beachhead and Omaha Beach had just been released and were seen commonly in the hands of the Norman hosts, who asked the vets and Joe to sign their books! Joe and Leah also participated with the six 29th Division D-Day vets in a ceremonial wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier underneath the majestic Arc de Triomphe in Paris. That was amazing!
Joe was honored by an invitation offered by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans to speak on two occasions at the Beyond All Boundaries international conference on WWII in December 2014. Joe provided two lectures, one on the 29th Division on D-Day, the second on the task of securing the first 1,000 yards of Omaha Beach. He also moderated a panel by several D-Day veterans. Other speakers at the conference included Rick Atkinson, John McManus, Anthony Beevor, and Gerhard Weinberg.
Joe's Omaha Beach book was reviewed by the noted WWII historian John McManus 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."
Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Liberation Trilogy, asked Joe to post bi-monthly essays on his popular website to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Joe's series of short pieces, titled The Road to D-Day, addressed the key events in the buildup to Operation Overlord. 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 trilogy. Check out pages 64 and 844 in The Guns at Last Light for some very kind references Rick made about Joe and his work. Thanks, Rick!
Joe's book Utah Beach will soon be released in Europe in a French-language edition, published by our friends at Histoire et Collections. This will be Joe's third book to be translated into French.
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.
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
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.
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.
Volume I in the U.S. Army on D-Day Series
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.
Volume II in the U.S. Army on D-Day Series
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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