Reviews for Guns at Last Light : The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945


Book News Reviews
The final volume of the World War II trilogy brings to life the Allies' brutal struggles in Normandy and at the Battle of the Bulge to the freeing of Paris as experienced by participants from every level of the military.

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Booklist Reviews 2013 April #1
Spanning D-day to V-E Day, Atkinson culminates his three-volume epic of the U.S. Army in Europe during WWII. Readers of the prior volumes (An Army at Dawn, 2002; The Day of Battle, 2007) will discover a thematic continuation in this one, namely, criticism of American generalship. Debacles such as Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and Patton's zany raid to liberate a POW camp punctuate the narrative of the U.S. Army's otherwise remorseless advance toward victory over the German army. To describe the high command's thinking concerning operations that turned into fiascoes, Atkinson funnels their postwar apologia through his appreciation of a particular battlefield situation, graphically conceptualized in this tome's excellent cartography. While casting generals in the light of human frailty, Atkinson allocates anecdotal abundance to soldiers' ground-war experiences. Emphasizing loss, he quotes many last letters from men destined to die. 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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #1
Atkinson (The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, 2007, etc.) brings his Liberation Trilogy to a resounding close. The war, of course, ended in Allied victory--though, it often seems even in these closing pages, just barely. Among the challenges were not just a ferocious German war machine that refused to stop grinding, but an Allied effort often hampered by internal disagreements and the inevitable jockeying for power. One skillful player was British general Bernard Montgomery, whom Atkinson captures with a gesture in an opening set piece: "With a curt swish of his pointer, Montgomery stepped to the great floor map." That map provided a visual survey of Overlord, the great 1944 multipronged invasion of Normandy, of which the author's long account is masterful and studded with facts and figures. Many of the key actors--Eisenhower, Patton--will be well-known to American readers, but others will not, not least of them Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the oldest general at D-Day and perhaps the bravest as well. American readers may also not know that British and Canadian troops landed elsewhere in Normandy on that day and paid a fearful price; Atkinson is to be commended for giving equal billing to those Allies. Toward the end, those Western Allies finally worked out some of their big differences, just in time for the final savage campaign of winter 1944–1945, which included the Battle of the Bulge. Atkinson assumes little outside knowledge of his readers, so his story is largely self-contained; as such, with the other volumes in the trilogy, it makes a superb introduction to a complex episode in world history. An outstanding work of popular history, in the spirit of William Manchester and Bruce Catton. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2012 December #1

Atkinson wraps up his "Liberation Trilogy," which opened with the Pulitzer Prize-winning (and best-selling) An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 and continued with The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944.

[Page 58]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 April #1

Atkinson (former senior editor, Washington Post) has won Pulitzer Prizes in both journalism and history (An Army at Dawn). In this last book in his "Liberation Trilogy" on World War II, he continues to tout the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers and airmen. The book stands out from others on World War II because it successfully explores the fallibility of participants at all levels. Atkinson acknowledges the impact of infighting among volatile Allied generals, who egotistically pursued their own agendas and timelines, risking thousands of lives. He portrays the fighting as equal parts courage, cowardice, and chaos. Intermingled with the lurking fears among all involved was their feeling of being intensely alive. In exposing the vulnerabilities and imperfections of the enlisted men and officers, Atkinson does not diminish the overall heroism of their actions but instead humanizes their contributions. VERDICT 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, although those seeking detailed information about a specific unit or action may not find it here. [See Prepub Alert, 11/19/12.]--Beth Dalton, Littleton, CO

[Page 89]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #1

Adding to the trunkful of extended WWII histories by the likes of Sir Max Hastings, Andrew Roberts, Martin Gilbert, John Keegan, and Norman Davies, Atkinson, winner of two Pulitzers (for An Army at Dawn, the first in the Liberation Trilogy, and for reporting), concludes his series on the war in Europe and North Africa with this superb work. Though lacking an overall theme, the book is distinguished by its astonishing range of coverage--peopling the pages are German, British, French, Canadian, and (primarily) American generals and common soldiers. Excerpts from the letters of dead soldiers on both sides, as well as from the diaries of captain generals, fill out the story. Atkinson takes readers through battles large and small, strategy as well as on-the-ground tactics, accompanied by vivid maps (courtesy of "master cartographer" Gene Thorp). Drama, the absurd, and the desperately sad weave throughout the narrative. War, Atkinson writes, is "a chaotic, desultory enterprise of reversal and advance, blunder and lan, despair and elation." In his estimation, such was the war for both the victors and the vanquished. His 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. Two 16-page b&w photo inserts, 29 maps. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, Sagalyn Literary Agency. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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