Did the Allied bombing plan for the liberation of France follow a carefully orchestrated plan, or was it executed on an ad-hoc basis with little concern or regard for collateral damage? How did the bombing of French cities and railheads follow – or disregard – existing air power doctrine, and where did the decision making occur, within the Army Air Forces and Bomber Command, or among the ground unit leaders? What was the cost to human life and material artistic and historic centers, and was it worth it? These are only a few of the questions Stephen Alan Bourque
addresses in his well-conceived and well-researched book, Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France
(Naval Institute Press, 2018). At almost every turn, Stephen challenges the existing triumphalist narratives of the liberation of France to present a heart-wrenching account of disproportionate violence targeting not the German military, but the French people during this stage of the war. A book rife with lessons for our generation, Beyond the Beach
is one of the most important texts to appear about the war in France in years.