Reviews for The Liberation Trilogy

An Army at Dawn

“A splendid book . . . The emphasis throughout is on the human drama of men at war.”
—The Washington Post Book World

“Exceptional . . . A work strong in narrative flow and character portraits of the principal commanders . . . [A] highly pleasurable read.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“A master of the telling profile . . . This vivid, personality-driven account of the campaign to drive Axis forces from North Africa shows the political side of waging war, even at the tactical level.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Brilliant . . . This is history and war in the hands of a gifted and unflinching writer.”
—Kansas City Star

“A monumental history of the overshadowed combat in North Africa during World War II that brings soldiers, generals, and bloody battles alive through masterful storytelling.”
—citation for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for History

“A book that stands shoulder to shoulder with the other major books about the war, such as the fine writing of Cornelius Ryan and John Keegan.”
—Associated Press

“Atkinson’s writing is lucid, vivid . . . Among the many pleasures of An Army at Dawn are the carefully placed details—shells that whistle into the water with a smoky hiss; a colonel with ‘slicked hair and a wolfish mustache’; a man dying before he can fire the pistols strapped in his holster.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“One of the most compelling pieces of military history I’ve ever read, An Army at Dawn will become a military history and strategy studies classic. Atkinson writes with incredible insight and mastery of the details, and he is always mindful of the larger picture. He goes from the highest political levels to the deepest foxhole without missing a beat. This is history at its finest.”
—General Wesley K. Clark, U.S.A. (ret.), former NATO supreme commander

“An engrossing narrative . . . Atkinson has an impressive command of words, a flair for simplifying complex issues, and a vast reservoir of information . . . This is a fascinating work which any reader can enjoy, and professional historians will find perusal of it eminently worth their while.”
—Arthur L. Funk, Journal of Military History

“A masterpiece. Rick Atkinson strikes the right balance between minor tactical engagements and high strategic direction, and he brings soldiers at every level to life, from private to general. An Army at Dawn is history with a soldier’s face.”
—General Gordon R. Sullivan, U.S.A. (ret.), former Army chief of staff

“What distinguishes his narrative is the way he fuses the generals’ war . . . with the experience of front-line combat soldiers.”
—Raleigh News & Observer

“Atkinson’s book is eminently friendly and readable, but without compromising normal standards of accuracy and objectivity. More than a military history, it is a social and psychological inquiry as well. His account of the Kasserine Pass disaster alone is worth the price of the book and stands as an exciting preview of the rich volumes to come. I heartily recommend this human, sensitive, unpretentious work.”
—Paul Fussell, author of Doing Battle and Wartime

“Rick Atkinson’s An Army at Dawn is a superb account of the Allied invasion of North Africa. From the foxhole to Eisenhower’s supreme headquarters, Atkinson has captured the essence of war in one of the most neglected campaigns of World War II.”
—Carlo D’Este, author of Patton and Eisenhower

“Given his success with modern military history, the penetrating historical insights Atkinson brings to bear on America’s 1942-43 invasion of the North African coast are not surprising . . . The most thorough and satisfying history yet of the campaigns in North Africa.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is a wonderful book—popular history at its best. It is impressively researched and superbly written, and it brings to life in full detail one of the vitally important but relatively “forgotten” campaigns of World War II. What Bruce Catton and Shelby Foote did for the Civil War in their trilogies, Rick Atkinson is doing for World War II in the European Theater.”
—Professor Mark A. Stoler, author of Allies and Adversaries

“Atkinson’s book puts him on a fast track toward becoming one of our most ambitious and distinguished military chroniclers . . . [He] has unpacked facts that will lift many eyebrows.”

“For sheer drama, the Tunisian campaign far overshadowed any other phase of the Second World War. Rick Atkinson has told the story with zest and brutal realism. His account will be a monument among accounts of World War II.”
—John S. D. Eisenhower, author of Allies and The Bitter Woods

An Army at Dawn is an absolute masterpiece. Atkinson conveys both the human drama and historical significance of this campaign with a power and intensity that is nothing short of electrifying. This book is storytelling—and history—at its most riveting.”
—Andrew Carroll, editor of War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars

“Rick Atkinson has done a beautiful job of research and writing in An Army at Dawn. This is the North African campaign—warts, snafus, feuding allies, incompetents, barely competents—unvarnished. It whets my appetite for the rest of the Liberation Trilogy Atkinson has promised us.”
—Joseph L. Galloway, coauthor of We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young

“Rick Atkinson combines meticulous research and attention to detail with an extraordinary ability to tell a story. It is a rich and powerful narrative which is certain to become a classic.”
—Ronald Spector, author of At War at Sea and Eagle against the Sun

An Army at Dawn may be the best World War II narrative since Cornelius Ryan’s classics, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far.”
—Wall Street Journal

“…precise …sparkling, Atkinson’s research is extensive. An Army at Dawn also includes new and fascinating materials.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“. . . intellectually convincing and emotionally compelling narrative.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Atkinson’s book puts him on the fast track toward becoming one of our most ambitious and distinguished military chroniclers.”
—Alan Prince, Army veteran and lecturer at the Univ. of Miami

“Atkinson tells a fascinating story of the North African campaign that is hard to stop reading . . . the perfect combination of biographical information and tactical considerations, and eyewitness accounts give readers an idea of what the average soldier must have endured.
—Library Journal

The Day of Battle

“The Liberation Trilogy . . . is shaping up as a triumph of narrative history, elegantly written, thick with unforgettable description and rooted in the sights and sounds of battle. [Atkinson] excels at describing the furor of battle, and the Italian campaign provides him with abundant raw material. Mr. Atkinson, a longtime correspondent and editor for The Washington Post, conveys all of this with sharp-edged immediacy and a keen eye for the monstrous and the absurd.”
—The New York Times

“The majestic sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn . . . Atkinson’s achievement is to marry prodigious research with a superbly organized narrative and then to overlay the whole with writing as powerful and elegant as any great narrative of war.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Monumental . . . With this book, Rick Atkinson cements his place among America’s great popular historians, in the tradition of Bruce Catton and Stephen Ambrose.”
—The Washington Post

“. . . it is his ability to ferret out astonishing amounts of detail and marshal it into a highly readable whole that gives Atkinson the edge over most writers in this field. Anyone who devoured An Army at Dawn with relish will be delighted with his account of the Sicilian and Italian campaign. All the same ingredients are here, from sharp one-liners . . . to brilliantly observed character portraits.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“[A] fascinating account of the war in Sicily and Italy.”
—USA Today

“Gripping . . . [Atkinson] combines an impressive depth of research with a knack for taut, compelling narrative.”
—Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

“Splendid . . . the infantrymen who did the fighting will grab at readers’ hearts.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“With The Day of Battle, Atkinson again proves himself to stand among the ranks of our most talented popular historians . . . required reading for anyone with an interest in the battles of World War II.”
—Austin American-Statesman

“A seamless, stunning narrative that is the equal of An Army at Dawn. . . . Atkinson’s success lies in his ability to render bare war’s wretched realities in astounding prose.”
—Contra Costa Times

“Atkinson surpasses his Pulitzer-winning An Army at Dawn in this empathetic, perceptive analysis of the second stage in the U.S. Army’s grassroots development from well-intentioned amateurs to the most formidable fighting force of World War II.”
—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Atkinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has written a comprehensive account of the campaign, which is the second volume of a planned trilogy covering the Allied liberation of Europe. As he illustrates with masterful use of primary sources, British and American war planners were deeply divided over the necessity of the campaign. Once launched, Allied attacks were frequently improvised and poorly coordinated. Still, progress was made, ending with the liberation of Rome in June 1944. Atkinson conveys the confusion and grinding difficulty of the Allied advance as experienced by ordinary soldiers while also providing interesting insights into the character of some of the top commanders.”

“The second volume of this former Washington Post editor’s “Liberation” trilogy, which began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, this is probably the most eagerly awaited World War II book of the year. Atkinson’s clear prose, perceptive analysis, and grasp of the personalities and nuances of the campaigns make his book an essential purchase.”
—Library Journal (starred review)

“Literate, lucid, fast-paced history—an excellent survey of the Mediterranean campaign.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Guns at Last Light

#1 New York Times Bestseller

“A magnificent book… Though the story may seem familiar, I found surprising detail on every page… Atkinson’s account of D-Day is both masterly and lyrical… [He] is an absolute master of his material.”
—Max Hastings, The Wall Street Journal

“A tapestry of fabulous richness and complexity… Atkinson is a master of what might be called ‘pointillism history,’ assembling the small dots of pure color into a vivid, tumbling narrative. . . . The Liberation Trilogy is a monumental achievement, about 2,500 pages in all, densely researched but supremely readable.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“Breathtaking, unforgettable… Atkinson provides us with especially poignant descriptions in a blaze of writing and research that matches the drama and significance of the moment, all without peer in modern history … This volume is a literary triumph worthy of the military triumph it explores and explains.”
—The Boston Globe

“Monumental… As befits a journalist who knows his material inside and out, Atkinson can provide the incisive explanation to a complex situation or personage… A masterpiece of deep reporting and powerful storytelling.”
—The Los Angeles Times

“[Atkinson] reconstructs the period from D-Day to V-E Day by weaving a multitude of tiny details into a tapestry of achingly sublime prose… With great sensitivity, Atkinson conveys the horrible reality of what soldiers had to become to defeat Hitler’s Germany.”
—The Washington Post

“Detailed in its research, unsparing in its judgments and confident in its prose…This trilogy—on which [Atkinson has] spent 12 years, twice as long as the war itself—may well be his masterpiece.”
—Time Magazine

“Great characters, vivid details…The final volume of Rick Atkinson’s ‘Liberation Trilogy’ proves again that few can re-tell a story as well as he.”
—USA Today

“A remarkable conclusion to his three parts on WWII… A fabulous book.”
—Tom Brokaw on MSNBC’s Morning Joe

The Guns at Last Light… history written at the level of literature… Atkinson’s story is propelled by vivid descriptions and delicious details… World War II’s reverberations will roll down the centuries in its geopolitical consequences, and in the literature it elicited in letters and in histories like Atkinson’s trilogy.”
—George Will, The Washington Post

“The final volume of Atkinson’s World War II trilogy is just great reading: From Hemingway’s liberating a Parisian hotel (and raiding its bar) to the American soldiers discovering concentration camps, the entire story is absolutely riveting.”

“The same qualities that garnered Atkinson a Pulitzer Prize for An Army at Dawn—meticulous research married to masterful narrative—are apparent in The Guns at Last Light. The new book relates the oft-told (but never better) story of the war’s final year, from D-Day to the German surrender.”
—The Chicago Tribune

“Epic, set-piece battle sequences are balanced by deft portraiture. The Greatest Generation is nearly gone…. The Liberation Trilogy is the monument it deserves.”
—Vanity Fair

“A sweeping, prodigiously researched epic… The Guns at Last Light is a definitive, heartfelt work of grandeur, atrocity, and profound sorrow. It is also, along with the two previous volumes, a long, fervent prayer for the fallen.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A terrific read… Atkinson never loses track of the men who fought the war. Mining their diaries and letters, he has produced an account that is achingly human.”
—The Miami Herald

“A richly detailed narrative of the war final’s year, with riveting looks at D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.”
—San Diego Union-Tribune

“Atkinson paints on a vast canvas while stressing the details. He cites the experiences of soldiers — officers and grunts alike — caught up in a conflagration beyond their comprehension. He preserves the humanity of humans in an inhumane situation… Passages describe human courage and depravity in such vivid prose that readers need to pause, reflect and regroup… His book is a fitting tribute.”
—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Soon, if not already, Atkinson will show up on the list of giants, as later historians stand on his shoulders.”
—The Dallas Morning News

“An epic conclusion to an epic historical trilogy about an epic quest to preserve Western freedom, The Guns at Last Light is sure to join its predecessor volumes in the best-seller ranks, and confirms the Liberation Trilogy as a new benchmark against which World War II books yet to be written will be measured.”
—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“A monumental piece of historical writing.”
—San Jose Mercury News

“Exhaustively researched, highly readable… Just over 16 million Americans served in uniform in the war, and only one million are expected to still be alive at the end of next year. Seven decades later, the story of their service remains compelling, and that’s why so many find it worthy of retelling.”
—Buffalo News

“The consummate historian rounds out his prize-winning Liberation Trilogy with a lengthy yet always-engrossing account of the final campaigns on the Western Front, which included D-Day and the well-known Battle of the Bulge. This closing volume is perfect for armchair historians, military buffs, and all those interested in how the Allies finally achieved victory in 1945.”
—Charleston City Paper

“A terrific read… [The Guns at Last Light]is narrative history at its best, providing not only an excellent chronicle of the war in Europe but also fascinating human interest stories and first-rate character studies of the major figures, as well as stories of ordinary soldiers. It is truly an outstanding study of the war and a must read for anyone interested in the Second World War.”
—Bowling Green Daily News (Kentucky)

“Crisp narrative drive, prodigious research and incisive analysis of people and events … Atkinson’s latest work is probably the single best volume about the war in Europe from the D-Day invasion … to the capitulation of German forces … Rick Atkinson … has become a poet of the war.”
—The Washington Independent Review of Books

“Superb…Atkinson writes sensitively, even lyrically…The Guns at Last Light offers an outstanding testament to all who sacrificed to defeat Hitler’s Third Reich.”
—The Louisville Courier-Journal

“The master of narrative military history ends his Liberation Trilogy with this admired account of the 1944-45 fighting in Western Europe.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Guns at Last Light is an important addition to the World War II bookshelf.”
—The Washington Times

“Impressively researched … and energetically written, with a brisk pace that carries the reader easily through the narrative’s 600-plus pages.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[An] extraordinary accomplishment. This is a beautifully written, moving account of one of the most bittersweet chapters in modern history… The details build a stunning and precise account of major movements—from Normandy to Paris, from the South of France to Grenoble—and close-up portraits of famous figures that make them living, breathing beings.”
—Smithsonian Magazine

“A riveting book…Few historians have Atkinson’s gift for language and few journalists pay as much attention to historical sources…Atkinson writes with the descriptive and lyrical power of a first-rate novelist.”
—Christian Science Monitor

“Emotionally gripping… This 850-page military history captivates the reader with the high drama of a spellbinding novel and a cast of characters that a master storyteller would be hard-pressed to invent… It’s hard to imagine a more engrossing, dramatic, fair-minded and elegantly written account of these 11 months that changed the course of history.”
—Associated Press

“In the final volume of his sweeping World War II trilogy, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson recounts the battle for Western Europe (from D-Day to V-E Day) through the eyes of those who were on the front lines, masterfully bringing this pivotal chapter of history back to vivid life.”

“Stark photographs complement the excellent prose.”
—Richmond Times Dispatch

“[The Guns at Last Light] is deep in detail, narrative and character description. Readers encounter famous generals — Eisenhower, Montgomery, Bradley, and a host of lower officers — in illuminated portrayals, warts and all.”
—Knoxville News Sentinel

“The Guns at Last Light and the Liberation Trilogy is as good as it gets. . . a historical tour-de-force of over 2,000 pages that places Atkinson among the short list of narrative history masters. . . Students and scholars of countless future generations will look to Atkinson for the story of how freedom bested tyranny in Africa and Europe.”
—On Point: The Journal of Army History

“Sweeping in scope, Shakespearean in drama and angst, unsparing in its observations, and rich in detail… Atkinson said that he wrote the trilogy as an effort to tell [the story of the frontline troops] ‘vividly and authoritatively, to current and future generations.’ That he has.”
—Defense Media Network

“Atkinson’s zest for research and his evident devotion to hard facts never obscures the grace of his writing. The proof of that lies less in the many accolades and prizes (including a Pulitzer in history in 2003) than simply in the reading. Rare is a 600-page-plus history book that qualifies as a page turner.”
—Military History Magazine

“Brilliant…Each volume [of the Liberation Trilogy] is characterized by superb research and fine writing. The high standard set in the prologue to the first volume carries through the epilogue to the last.”
—BG Harold W. Nelson, Army Magazine

“Richly rewarding and beautifully crafted …With lyrical élan, [Atkinson] accurately and objectively tells the greatest story of our time, and does so with the general reader always in mind.”
—World War II Magazine

“Triumphant . . . Critics have correctly praised [The Guns at Last Light’s] depth, its evocative nature, and its grasp of the human dimensions of this titanic campaign without losing sight of a broader narrative. . . [Atkinson has] produced a profound work, worthy of being rapidly placed on the service chiefs’ and other senior American commanders’ reading lists.”

“A marvelous capstone to a trilogy that will make Rick Atkinson to the U.S. Army in the European Theater of Operations what Shelby Foote is to the Civil War … Mr. Atkinson has a rare ability to combine a historian’s eye with a reporter’s pen to simultaneously provide a sweep and detail to combat that is both unique and enjoyable for the novice student and the hardiest grognard.”
—New York Journal of Books

“Superb… Atkinson brings his Liberation Trilogy to a resounding close… An outstanding work of popular history, in the spirit of William Manchester and Bruce Catton.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Superb… The book is distinguished by its astonishing range of coverage… [Atkinson’s] lively, occasionally lyric prose brings the vast theater of battle, from the beaches of Normandy deep into Germany, brilliantly alive. It is hard to imagine a better history of the western front’s final phase.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“With a mastery of sources that support nearly every sentence, Atkinson achieves a military history with few peers as an overview of the 1944-45 campaigns in Western Europe.”

“The book stands out from others on World War II because it successfully explores the fallibility of participants at all levels…This is not a detailed account of any one particular battle but a sweeping epic, yet it is packed with fascinating details. Highly recommended to all who read World War II history.”
—Library Journal

“The brilliant, more-than-worth-the-wait final volume of [Atkinson’s] epic Liberation Trilogy. . . The Guns at Last Light should be read not just as a great work of narrative military history, but as an accomplished work of American literature.”