Cornelius Ryan

Cornelius Ryan books and biography

Cornelius Ryan

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Cornelius Ryan, (5 June 1920 – 23 November 1974) was an Irish journalist and author mainly known for his writings on popular military history, especially World War II.


Early life

Born in Dublin and educated at Christian Brothers' School Synge Street, South Circular Road, Dublin, Ryan moved to London in 1940, and became a war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in 1941. He initially covered the air war in Europe, flew along on fourteen bombing missions with the Eighth and Ninth U.S. air forces, and then joined General George Patton's army and covered its actions until the end of the European war. He transferred to the Pacific theatre in 1945, and then to Jerusalem in 1946.


Ryan emigrated to the United States in 1947 to work for Time magazine, followed by other magazines (he was an editor in "Colliers"). He married Kathryn Morgan (1925-1993), a novelist, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1950.


In 1956 he began to write The Longest Day. It was an instant success, and he followed it with The Last Battle (1965), about the Battle of Berlin. The book contains detailed accounts from all perspectives: civilian, American, British, Russian and German. It deals with the intense political situation in the spring of 1945 in which the eastern and western fronts fought for the chance to liberate Berlin and carve up the remains of Germany.

His two best-known books are The Longest Day (1959), which tells the story of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and A Bridge Too Far (1974), which tells the story of Operation Market Garden, the ill-fated assault by airborne forces on the Netherlands culminating in the battle of Arnhem. Both books were made into major motion pictures, in 1962 and 1977, respectively.

He was awarded the French Legion of Honor, and an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Ohio University, where the Cornelius Ryan Collection is housed (Alden Library). A Bridge Too Far was published in September 1974, and Ryan died of cancer while on tour promoting the book only two months later.

Four years after his death, his struggle with cancer was detailed in A Private Battle, written by his wife, from notes he had secretly left behind for that purpose. He is buried, alone, in the Ridgebury Cemetery, in northern Ridgefield, Connecticut.



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