Biographical Information:

Dates: 1920 -1974Dates in Ridgefield:
historical fiction, nonfiction, journalismreporter, historian
Cornelius J. Ryan died in 1974 just weeks after completing A Bridge Too Far, the third of his massive, meticulously researched books on World War II. “He had struggled valiantly against the cancer that finally claimed his life, almost forcing himself to stay alive until his book... was completed,” Linette Burton wrote later. Mr. Ryan’s trilogy, which included The Longest Day and The Last Battle, is famous throughout the world, and his abilities as a historian of World War II were legendary. For The Longest Day alone, he interviewed more than 1,000 Americans, French citizens, and Germans who took part in the battles. All three books were made into films. He was later awarded the French Legion of Honor. Born in 1920 in Dublin, Ireland, he became a reporter covering the war in Europe for Reuters and the London Daily Telegraph, including the landing at Normandy. D-Day is the subject of The Longest Day, which he spent 10 years researching and which has sold more than four million copies. (The title of the book is taken from a quotation by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, speaking to his generals: “...the first twenty-four hours will be decisive! It will become for the Allies, as well as for the Germans, the longest day....” The book appeared in 1959 and he devoted the rest of his life to the trilogy. Much of the work on the second two books was done at his Old Branchville Road home with the help of his wife, writer Kathryn Morgan Ryan. Four years after his death, his struggle with cancer was detailed in A Private Battle, co-authored with his wife, from notes he had secretly left behind for that purpose. At his funeral, his eulogy was delivered by Walter Cronkite. Although he died in New York, he is buried in Ridgebury Cemetery.
Titles (partial):One Minute to Ditch, 1957The Longest Day: June 6, 1944, 1959A Bridge Too Far: The Classic History of the Greatest Battle of World War II, 1995The Last Battle: The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin, 1966Private Battle, with Kathryn Morgan Ryan, 1980
--Sources: Wikipedia; Notable Ridgefielders–Jack Sanders; Amazon.com; www.ridgefieldctblog.com