WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In the first volume of his monumental trilogy about the liberation of Europe in World War 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.
Atkinson won a Pulitzer Prize during his time as a journalist and editor at the Washington Post and is the author of The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 and of Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War. In contrast to Crusade's illustrations of technomastery, this book depicts the U.S. Army's introduction to modern war. The Tunisian campaign, Atkinson shows, was undertaken by an American army lacking in training and experience alongside a British army whose primary experience had been of defeat. Green units panicked, abandoning wounded and weapons. Clashes between and within the Allies seemed at times to overshadow the battles with the Axis. Atkinson's most telling example is the relationship of II Corps commander George Patton and his subordinate, 1st Armored Division's Orlando Ward. The latter was a decent person and capable enough commander, but he lacked the final spark of ruthlessness that takes a division forward in the face of heavy casualties and high obstacles. With Dwight Eisenhower's approval, Patton fired him. The result was what Josef Goebbels called a "second Stalingrad"; after Tunisia, the tide of war rolled one way: toward Berlin. Atkinson's visceral sympathies lie with Ward; his subtext from earlier books remains unaltered: in war, they send for the hard men. Despite diction that occasionally lapses into the melodramatic, general readers and specialists alike will find worthwhile fare in this intellectually convincing and emotionally compelling narrative.
Great writing, maps need improving
As someone in his mid-twenties this was an important read for me. My knowledge and view of WWII has greatly expanded through such a well written narration of the war in Africa.
What fell short for me was the resolution of the maps. They did not hold up well on the retina display making them difficult to study.
Fills a void in US WWII history - must read
Without a doubt this is a must read for anyone who claims to be a WWII history buff, or anyone who just loves to read about WWII. It is by far the finest of Rick Atkinson’s trilogy series books, and the two later books will disappoint after reading this one. Having said that, this book really sets the stage for understanding the weak status of the US military machine before and during the initial years of WWII in the African campaign. There are few, if any, books that tell this less glamorous part of US army history. By reading this book, you will appreciate how much the US army grew in a short time to take its place a a military powerhouse.
Detailed account of the North Africa campaign of 1942-43. A must read for everyone interested in military history.