Britannica Online Storms Virtual Beaches of Normandy

Article excerpt

Encyclopaedia Britannica has announced a new multimedia Web site, NORMANDY: 1944. The site provides a virtual march through the D-Day invasion by means of articles and essays, interactive maps, audio and video clips, and transcripts of first-person accounts. It is available free of charge at http://normandy.eb.com.

Developed in part to accompany Steven Spielberg's forthcoming film Saving Private Ryan, NORMANDY: 1944 is the latest in a series of "spotlight" Web presentations on Britannica Online (http://www. eb.com) featuring special, in-depth coverage of topics and issues of current interest.

"The site is designed to ignite a visitor's imagination while at the same time providing an exhaustive source of historical information," said Paul Hoffman, publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. "By combining personal recollections with objective historical accounts in a multimediarich presentation, Britannica has created an experience that informs visitors about the invasion and gives them a sense of what it was like to be there."

In addition to its own extensive information on D-Day, Britannica has acquired a collection of photo exhibits, video, audio commentaries, written transcripts, and historic newsreels from many sources, including the National Archives and the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans. The site also includes a range of personal recollections in audio and text form from stories of American soldiers landing on Normandy's beaches to reminiscences of French civilians who experienced the invasion from their front yards.

Ronald Drez, author, lecturer, and historian on military subjects who serves as a research associate at the Eisenhower Center, contributed expert reportage and analysis throughout NORMANDY: 1944. "There are 36,525 days in a century," said Drez. "By necessity, one day must rise above all others in importance. In the 20th century, that day is June 6, 1944. Now, through NORMANDY: 1944, Britannica Online offers the time machine to travel back to that day-`The Day' of the 20th Century."

The full contents of the site, featuring a five-part article by the prominent military historian John Keegan, was rolled out over 5 weeks on a schedule roughly corresponding to the timetable of the D-Day offensive itself. The first two phases of the content rollout were "Buildup" and "Invasion." Buildup provides background and context for the invasion and depicts the events leading up to it. …