John's Reviews > An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943

An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson
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's review
Jul 21, 08

bookshelves: history
Read in July, 2008

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 victory.

After reading this book (all 700+ pages), that is still the sum of my knowledge about the North African campaign. Atkinson has a very fluid writing style, as befitting someone whose primary job is journalism. But there's the problem - as a journalist, Atkinson writes like he is covering the war as it happens, not writing about it historically sixty years later. There is very little analysis of battles, leaders, or tactics beyond straight coverage of who moved where, who fought who, and who ran away. I also felt the book lacked enough maps. And who doesn't love a good map?

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message 1: by Meron (new)

Meron Axos A good point. Very well written and engrossing book. But Atkinson writes about a major campaign by stringing together a series of detailed reports on small scale tactical battles. This is interesting to many. But a lot more analysis and summary is needed to pull all the little battles into a cohesive narrative.

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