An Army At Dawn: The War In North Africa, 1942 1943
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An Army At Dawn: The War In North Africa, 1942 1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy #1)

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  7,827 ratings  ·  543 reviews
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...more
Hardcover
Published 2003 by Little, Brown (first published 2002)
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sckenda
In a cemetery in ancient Carthage stand markers to 2,841 graves of American war dead from the Battle of North Africa during the Second World War. There you will also find a limestone monument commemorating 3,724 Americans whose bodies were never found. Their story is not as well known as those of their comrades who fell in France two years later.

In the first volume of his Liberation Trilogy, which won the Pulitzer Prize, journalist and historian Rick Atkinson demonstrates how during 1942 and ea...more
Matt
My first introduction to the U.S. Army’s invasion of North Africa in World War II came from Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One. The film, starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill, opens with the Torch landings, and combines elements of tragedy and farce predicated on the uncertainty over whether or not the French would fight on Hitler’s behalf. Initially, the French played the villains; in other words, they act French. The Americans are pinned down by heavy fire. Explosions throw up gouts of sand. Men d...more
Ed
Jun 07, 2008 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in WW II or Military History
Book One of the Liberation Trilogy, this is one of the most well written WWII history books I've ever read. Atkinson is an accomplished researcher but also brings his research to life with well placed anecdotes, memoranda, letters and documented conversations. It's almost like reading a novel.

The only drawback is the overwhelming scope of his narrative. I sometimes had to read the same material twice to get it into proper context. I also accessed the index many times to refresh my memory on name...more
Mike
An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 gets 5 Big Stars for reaching that rare pinnacle—a war history that can be read enjoyably by novices and historical experts. Rick Atkinson stands equal with Max Hastings and Cornelius Ryan in making this subject come alive. He uses the same techniques, walking you through how the leaders developed grand strategy and then taking you right down into the foxholes, ships and armored vehicles in the heat of battle. He uses vignettes of various parts...more
Keith
In this, the first volume of his "Liberation Trilogy," Rick Atkinson delivers a stirring yet critical narrative of the war in North Africa. This was the scene in 1942 of the first combat clashes between green and untested American soldiers and the long-bloodied Afrika Korps of Erwin Rommel. The greatest strength of this book is Atkinson's marvelous style and his ability to tell the tale with both metaphorical flourishes and precise statistical accuracy. Atkinson is not a historian by training, h...more
Terence
Jan 16, 2009 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military/WW2 history buffs
Shelves: history-general
I started Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy with his second book - The Day of Battle - but that was such an informative and well written account of the Italian campaign that when I came across a copy of An Army at Dawn in a local used bookstore, I picked it up immediately.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed.

Despite the occasionally overwrought prose (which I don’t remember so much from The Day of Battle), Atkinson manages to relate the invasion of North Africa and the subsequent campaign to take Tunis wi...more
John
This would be a good book for someone who has a broad interest in World War II, but not looking for serious historical analysis of the American invasion of North Africa.

Compared to the rest of World War II, I knew very little about the North African campaign. Basically, I understood that the Americans invaded North Africa in December of 1942, fought their way into Tunisia, got the stuffing kicked out of them by the Germans at Kasserine Pass, but eventually triumphed and labelled the campaign a...more
Dan
I don't know how long it took Atkinson to write this book, but it is meticulously researched. He sifted through official documents, news reels military records, personal letters to home, letters from home and journal entries of the soldiers involved.

He takes all of this information (there's more than 100 pages of references) and creates a detailed look at the African Invasion of World War II, told through the eyes of generals, soldiers and Americans back home. This sweeping epic (it's hard to b...more
Checkman
Solid very readable popular military history. In November 1942 the United States Army (the entire United States military establishment for that matter) was green and it embarked on a major land campaign against the German Army. Arguably one of the best armies in the world at that time and an army that had been basically fighting non-stop for the past three years. Not surprisingly the Germans delivered several stunning kicks to the American jaw, but thanks to many factors (to include just dumb lu...more
Steven Z.
For those who are interested in the military history of Europe during World War II but do not enjoy dealing with the minutiae of military detail for each battle Rick Atkinson has done us all a service. He has produced what has been labeled as the “liberation trilogy” which he has just completed with the publication of THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT THE WAR IN WESTERN EUROPE, 1944-1945. Mr. Atkinson has spent the last fifteen years researching and writing his history of the war in Europe. In 2002 he pres...more
Jack
A gritty description of how the American army became a fighting force in the hills of Tunisia. Well written and full of excellent descriptions of the front. I found his research on this political and military aspects extremely interesting. I would have liked more additions on how the Germans played in this campaign. The author did an excellent job and I recommend this one to all WWII readers.
thewanderingjew
This is a masterful, wonderfully researched presentation of the initial battles of WWII. Precisely described, in plain language, it brings the war and its character to the readers, depositing them right onto the battlefield, enabling them to hear the sound of the fighting, the cries of the wounded, and forces them to smell the stench of war.
In 1939, WWII was overtaking Europe. After the invasion of Pearl Harbor, in December of 1941, America entered the war. The plan was to concentrate in North A...more
Richard
Arrogance, error, inexperience, and 70,000 allied casualties. And so goes the army at dawn as the Supreme Commander balances politics and war and often comes up short in both fields, battle commanders sacrifice troops in the name of ego, mid-level commanders do or die, support troops build desert cities powered by typewriters, and the troops learn to hate and kill.

The war in North Africa was mostly a mess, but a victory came out of the mess, and it was a mess of on-the-job training for everyone...more
Rick Riordan
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 i...more
Sherwood Smith
Terrific narrative drive and remarkable facility with imagery coupled with formidable research make this stand above most of the bazillion World War II military histories. Atkinson relies on the letters and diaries of ordinary soldiers as well as official war diaries and the personal writings of various officers and leaders. (Just for the heck of it, I checked his quotes from Rommel, as I have the Rommel papers book, and yep, precise, word for word.)

He also acknowledges several decades of milita...more
Jill Hutchinson
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...more
Eric Kibler
I have to admit, I've always been a bit intimidated by military history. No more. It's always great when you can find that writer who can ease you past those jargon-barriers that can impede your enjoyment of a particular kind of book. I'm always game for a chance to enlarge my literary comfort zone.

Anyway, my appetite is now whetted for more WWII, and I'm diving right into Atkinson's second book in the Liberation Trilogy, The Day of Battle  The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #2) by Rick Atkinson.

Some things I learned from this book:

1. We fought the French in WWII. F...more
Becky
An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa provides insight into one of the least explored fronts in WWII. Atkinson takes his readers from the first British and American landings in Algeria to the final liberation of Tunisia. He delves into the rocky relationship between British and American soldiers and commanders, the transformation of colonial French forces from enemies to friends, and the painful adolescence of the American military. Atkinson accomplishes this through a play-by-play of each in...more
Thomas
Apr 02, 2007 Thomas rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII Historians
Here is my review for Amazon:

Prodigiously researched with an attitude, Atkinson's book contains many many stories of the War in North Africa that may never have been told otherwise.

The book reads like a novel and novels, of course, are works of fiction. So this method of telling is detrimental; it undermines if not the research, then the conclusions the author draws. The author, given his newspaper experience and many years of hindsight, seems to take a superior attitude and is quick to condemn...more
Joe
Like every red-blooded American male, I thought myself deeply acquainted with the ins and outs of World War II. Rick Atkinson's An Army at Dawn showed me how little I knew about America's prelude to our invasion of Europe - the African campaign of '42 and '43.
Like every good historical writer, Atkinson blends compelling storytelling with exhaustive research and attention to detail. Though he focuses on the perspectives of Eisenhower and Patton, Atkinson acquaints readers with the French and Brit...more
Patrick Santana
"For among mortal powers, only imagination can bring back the dead." -- Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn, p 2.

And with a potency that defies easy explanation, Atkinson opens what has to be one of the greatest narratives of historical imagination ever penned. The lives of individual survivors, of the dying, and the dead are brought forth with the power of Homer's Iliad. AN ARMY AT DAWN is a book I woke up each morning, anxious to read another chapter. It's a rare piece of historical writing that ca...more
Ctgt
Quite possibly better the second time around. Very readable history of a part of WWII with which I was woefully unfamiliar. Working my way back through the first two books in preparation for reading the last book The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945.
A.L. Sowards
A detailed account of the campaign in Northern Africa, from the Allied landings in November 1942 until the capture of Tunis. Atkinson’s books are dense, packed with facts, and always take me a while to get through (not because of any flaw with the writing, there’s just so much to absorb). Full of interesting stories and tidbits, plus an overall informative big-picture look. The conclusion: the campaign in N. Africa wasn’t elegant, but the Allies got the job done.
Donna
I don’t usually read this kind of book (non-fiction WWII.) WWII, actually war in general, isn’t usually my kind of thing. And to be perfectly honest, I was expecting to hate this. I even had two back-up books, just in case. But I must say, I actually enjoyed it.

The first quarter, I was pleasantly surprised. I started to think, this isn’t so bad and I even threw two more WWII non-fiction books on top of my TBR mountain, thinking, ‘this is interesting’. In the second quarter, I was a little annoy...more
Alicja
rating: 4/5

I don't think I've ever read anything about the war in Africa during WWII, even back in high school I think it got an honorable mention during a class before moving on, so I had no idea all this was going on. And I am so glad that I decided to pick up this group read although it took me 6 months to get through. It isn't an easy read, if you are like me and unfamiliar with this topic, then you'll have a ton of names, events, battles, etc. that you'll be reading about here for the first...more
Louise Turner
There is a drive underway in Fort Smith, Arkansas, my hometown, to honor General William O. Darby, leader of the famed Darby's Rangers, with a permanent monument for he was our local hero. This reminded me of a wonderful book, "An Army at Dawn" by Rick Atkinson, I read earlier this summer. This, the first volume of Atkinson's "Liberation" trilogy on World War II, had been on my to-read list for a long time and I'm so glad I finally got around to it. It covers the campaign in North Africa and the...more
Michael Dorosh
This is not just a dry recitation of the facts surrounding the campaign in North Africa, this is a full blown Cornelius-Ryan-esque portrayal of the US Army's trials and travails, from TORCH to final victory. Few authors tend to look beyond the stories of their own nationality; Atkinson has very masterfully worked in the British, French and German sides of the story as well. Historical figures are treated as characters in a drama rather than as simple names to be recited; dozens of commanders - m...more
Xon
This book is great for an advanced WWII reader. Atkinson is extremely detailed in small and large battles ranging across North Africa. I seemed to get bogged down in the detail and found it hard to pay attention. At points it felt like I was reading a text book. However. there are interesting parts and pieces of knowledge I am glad I picked up.

A couple of side notes.
I don't know about everyone else, but I am not exactly familiar with ports and cities in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. You might...more
Clyde
An Army at Dawn is a very good history of the western front in North Africa. It is also the story of the coming of age of the American army and its leaders.

The fighting in North Africa was brutal -- I had not realized how much so. In this crucible, the American army in the European theater was born. Perhaps the book itself sums things up best in a passage in the epilogue.
At a price of 70,000 casualties “one continent had been redeemed,” in Churchill’s phrase. But more than territory could be cla...more
Bap
This is a very good history of America's entry into World War two. The Russians clamored for the opening of a second front in Europe in order to relieve pressure on the Russians who were locked in a life and death struggle with the Germans. The British had no stomach with taking on the Germans directly and were fearful of a repeat of the bloody stalemate of World War I, The British also looked with disdain on the Yanks who were good at producing arms but had not yet proved them selves on the bat...more
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Born in Munich, in the Federal Republic of Germany, Atkinson is the son of a U.S. Army officer and grew up on military posts. He holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Chicago. He is the best-selling author of The Long Gray Line, a narrative account about West Point’s class of 1966; Crusade, a narrative history of the Persian Gulf War; and An Army at Dawn , the...more
More about Rick Atkinson...
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #2) The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #3) The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 In The Company Of Soldiers: A Chronicle Of Combat In Iraq Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War

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