Author Letter about Battle of the Bulge

My father was a soldier, which made me an “Army brat.” He enlisted in the army when he was eighteen years old, in 1943, about halfway through World War II. He became a lieutenant and arrived in Europe just after the war there ended. A few years later, my father came home to America, went to college, got married, and went back into the army, this time to make it a career. Once again he was sent to war-torn Europe. I was born in Germany, but we lived for several years in Austria, which was still occupied by American troops.

I guess it’s no wonder that I have always been fascinated by World War II. It was the worst catastrophe in human history—a time of great heroes, of bravery and sacrifice, but also a time of great villains, of cowardice and horrible crimes. Seventy years after it was fought, the war continues to influence our lives today. Whether or not your great-grandfather or great-grandmother served in the military or worked in a war production factory, chances are it was the most exciting, terrifying, and memorable period of their lives.

World War II is also the greatest story of the twentieth century, and my hope is that you will get to know this story because it tells us a lot about who we are as a nation and what events shaped the world you know today.

Rick Atkinson
Washington, D.C.