Author(s): Rick AtkinsonDownload
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In the first volume of his monumental trilogy about the liberation of Europe in WW II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the riveting story of the war in North Africa
The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is a story of courage and enduring triumph, of calamity and miscalculation. In this first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson shows why no modern reader can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers without a grasp of the great drama that unfolded in North Africa in 1942 and 1943. That first year of the Allied war was a pivotal point in American history, the moment when the United States began to act like a great power.Beginning with the daring amphibious invasion in November 1942, An Army at Dawn follows the American and British armies as they fight the French in Morocco and Algeria, and then take on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. Battle by battle, an inexperienced and sometimes poorly led army gradually becomes a superb fighting force. Central to the tale are the extraordinary but fallible commanders who come to dominate the battlefield: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgomery, and Rommel.Brilliantly researched, rich with new material and vivid insights, Atkinson’s narrative provides the definitive history of the war in North Africa.
Some Reviews: 1010 in Goodreads.com
Long-winded, but incredibly well-written and exhaustive, An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson was definitely a choice pick for the Pulitzer for History 2003. The book is simply brilliant is demonstrating that friction between British and America commands nearly imploded the effort in Africa and how close the battle for Tunisia really was. The psychological portraits of the legendary characters of Ike, Patton, Montgomery and Rommel were fascinating. The detailed battle maps were also incredibly useful. As a natural pacifist, I felt that Atkinson was writing from a cynical American perspective: we were very, very far from perfect and committed our share of atrocities but believed we were in a holy war against the Axis and that German brutality at Stalingrad – which made even German officers pale and disheartened – reinforced this belief. I think his thesis that the Africa campaign was a necessary warmup for the Italian campaign (subject of the second book of his trilogy) and Normandy (subject of the 3rd book) is probably accurate. While I still detest war and am bereaved at the thought of so much senseless death, it was clear that Hitler had to be stopped and was clearly engaged in a suicidally insane war on two fronts and that he would never yield until all hope was annihilated.
Atkinson ‘s book is a critical read for those wanting to understand this little known campaign and see that the Hollywood version of our GIs is simply lies and damned lies. Yes, they were heroic at some points, but they were also frail humans and despite the glory history subsequently heaped on their shoulders, many decisions of the upper chain of command had catastrophic results on the field. If I had to sum it up in a phrase, it is kind of the equivalent of Howard Zinn’s extraordinarily eye-opening People’s History of the US but instead focused on the African campaign of the Allied forces striking west to east from 1942-1943.
Atkinson’s An Army at Dawn covers the 1942-1943 war in North Africa, from the initial Allied invasions to the drawn-out siege of Tunisia. Like all great history books, this one reads like a cracking good novel. Atkinson brings his characters to life, from Supreme Commander Ike Eisenhower to the soldiers on the front line, using personal diaries, letters home, and declassified official accounts. He evokes the North African terrain in vivid detail and really makes the reader feel as if he or she is on the ground with the troops. His vignettes are by turns touching, terrifying, and absurdly funny — such as the time Winston Churchill is found wandering along the North African beach, serenading random soldiers, until challenged by an American sentry who calls up headquarters: “Hey, there’s a drunk guy down here singing to us. He says he’s the prime minister of Britain.” The main impression I came away with was just how poorly prepared the U.S. military was for the war they faced. In many ways, North Africa was a training ground for bigger battles to come in Italy and Normandy, and it’s a very good thing the Allied troops started in Africa, rather than launching straight into an invasion of France, as many American commanders were advocating. This is a long, detailed book covering lots of ground (both literally and figuratively) but it’s first-rate writing about an important campaign that forged the Allies into an effective fighting force.
This is one of the trilogy of books by Rick Atkinson about WWII and it is a real winner. This edition concentrates on the war in North Africa and the Allies’ confrontations with Rommel and von Armin and the Afrika Corps. The initial landing on the continent of Africa, Operation Torch, was pretty much a fiasco and the Americans were green and inexperienced. Men were not prepared for the horrors of warfare and the British who had been in Africa for a while were totally disgusted with the American troops. The choice of Eisenhower as Commander-in-Chief was not well received and when Patton arrived even the troops under his command were at a loss to understand his tactical moves and his insistence on being on the front lines. The political situation among the Allies often was at the breaking point with the goal being who got the glory rather than fighting the enemy as a combined force, utilizing the strengths of both the British and the Americans. It’s an insiders look at the behind the scenes machinations of battle with fascinating detail Boys became men and the commanding officers either exhibited their talents or their inability to lead. Africa was the training ground, especially for Americans for the battle to come on the continent of Europe. I highly recommend this book for the WWII history buff.
I am a historian by training and know from past experience just how difficult it is to write readable military history, combining the objectivity needed to explain the complexity of overall strategy whilst capturing first hand the bitter experience of the front line soldier in combat. But Rick Atkinson pulls it off seamlessly and with apparent ease. This work is a masterpiece and will, I am sure, become the ‘definitive history’ of the Allied North African Campaign.
Meticulously researched and written on an epic scale but always manageable the text is detailed but studded with human bravery and courage. The horror of battle is laid bare. But the author has the ability to combine light and amusing anecdotal evidence, as he does with aplomb, for instance with the with the heavy weight diplomatic negotiations between Roosevelt and Churchill, which he handles with light touch and his account is gripping like a page-turner. The narrative flow from the diplomatic and human background to mounting the daring amphibious Operation Torch, through the landings in Morocco and Algiers, to the fighting on the ground, is as fascinating as it is enthralling, and the book is eminently readable for all students of history, at whatever level, and for the general reader, too. Masterly and magisterial in scope and delivery. Spell binding human history.
The first volume Atkinson’s “Liberation Trilogy”, about the african and european front, from 1942 to 1945. The first volume is centered on the 1942-43 war in North Africa. The author describes in very eloquently form and like a detailed and magisterial account of the battles themselves.
Given the complexity and size of the battle, the battle in North Africa showed the deficiencies of logistics early in the war. Atkinon presents the complexity of events with enviable skill and point of view of the principal generals with insightful. You can feel the battle details to personal of the african front.
Finally, I highly recommend this book.
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