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

(World War II Liberation Trilogy #3)

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  7,943 ratings  ·  751 reviews
The magnificent conclusion to Rick Atkinson’s acclaimed Liberation Trilogy about the Allied triumph in Europe during World War II

It is the twentieth century’s unrivaled epic: at a staggering price, the United States and its allies liberated Europe and vanquished Hitler. In the first two volumes of his bestselling Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson recounted how the American
Hardcover, 877 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Daena Find it on your reading list, press "currently reading" and a list should give you the "Read" option to signify that you've completed the book. Rate, …moreFind it on your reading list, press "currently reading" and a list should give you the "Read" option to signify that you've completed the book. Rate, and then move on!! (less)

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May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"German machine guns - with a sound one GI compared to 'a venetian blind being lifted up rapidly' - perforated the beach, killing the wounded and rekilling the dead. All thirty-two soldiers in one boat, LCA-1015, were slaughtered, including their captain. A lieutenant shot in the brain continued to direct his troops until, a survivor recounted, 'he sat down and held his head in the palm of his hand before falling over dead.' Wounded men jabbed themselves with morphine or shrieked for medics, one ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, top-10-2013
(Okay, so I added a picture).

In a drawer, in a sealable plastic bag, there are some memories: a rough map of North Africa, a divisional flag, some medals, love letters with censored locations but uncensored passion. There is a bright red Nazi armband complete with swastika which was always the hit at show and tell. There was a Purple Heart, wisely, lovingly and perfectly bequeathed to a granddaughter as a prized possession.

These were my father’s things from the war.

Of course not everything coul
Michael Finocchiaro
An exceptional end to The Liberations Trilogy, The Guns at Last Light covers the Allied advance from OVERLORD on the Normandy beaches to the surrender on May 7 in Denmark and May 8 in Berlin. As usual, Atkinson's text is dense, but full of the human stories of atrocity in warfare and elated feelings of victory. The portraits of the major players (Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Churchill, Montgomery, Patton, Bradley, etc) are vivid and lifelike which help make the book to be an enjoyable read despite the ...more
Rick Riordan
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Funny thing about Atkinson's writing. Even after reading two extremely long volumes in his Liberation trilogy, I was compelled to jump straight into the third and final book as if I was desperate to find out the ending of the series.

Of course I knew the ending. The Nazis lose. Hooray! The Guns at Last Light covers the most famous part of the war in Western Europe -- from the landings at Normandy through the liberation of France to the eventual surrender of Germany. Still, Atkinson is such a go
Stefania Dzhanamova
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
This is the third volume of Rick Atkinson's exceptional Liberation Trilogy, and it covers the whole Allied war in Northwestern Europe from Operation OVERLORD in Normandy to Germany's surrender on 8 May 1945.

In July 1943, the Anglo-American forces overran Sicily in six weeks before invading the Italian mainland in early September. Mussolini's Fascist regime collapsed, and the new government in Rome renounced the Axis Pact of Steel. Yet, as Atkinson narrates in THE DAY OF BATTLE, a bloody struggl
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Before giving this review over to why this is a very worthy addition the many shelves of World War II military histories, let us try to understand what this book is not.

Rick Atkinson's The Guns at Last Light is not a comprehensive , critical analysis of the last 340 days of the War in Europe. It is, from beginning to end a purely American version of the events, with scant attention to the life or contributions of many allies and virtually no narrative assigned to the Germans, Civilian, Soldier o
Nathan Trachta
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A few years ago I picked up An Army at Dawn and was blown away. Mr. Atkinson opened an arena in history that had rarely been touched by historians, America's entry into WWII on the European theater. What blew me away the most was his ability to tell the bigger picture and include the smaller picture of individual warriors' tales. Mr. Atkinson continued his tale with The Day of Battle, treading on more familiar territory and while not as "spellbinding" as An Army at Dawn I was impressed. Since th ...more
David Eppenstein
I have mentioned before that WWII is not a favorite subject of mine. I have read several good books dealing with various theaters, engagements, and personages of that war but those have not been enough to really stir any deep desire to delve in detail in that war. Last year I read an excellent book by Craig Symonds called WWII At Sea that introduced me to an entirely different way of understanding armed conflicts. Now I have read this book and my interest in WWII has taken a sharp turn.

Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have just finished this extraordinary book. I read a lot of history, and have read most of the large-scale histories of World War II, including Rick Atkinson's two previous volumes, both of which were very skilled indeed. If anything, the Guns at Last light goes even deeper, drawing the reader into a new level of understanding of the war.

The book is fine narrative history, but includes an attention to the detail of personal experience that sets it apart, bringing the conflict to terrifying li
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Atkinson has completed his Liberation Trilogy in fine style! This volume covers the liberation of France/Germany from D-Day thru to the end of the war. He blends anecdotes from the lowest private to the highest general, facts and figures of the amount of material was consumed/lost/expended and the higher level tale of the battle to weave the tale of the fight in Northwest Europe that I found fascinating. In the hands of a lesser writer, the statistics Mr.Atkinson cites could really bog down ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is currently on the best seller list. And, while I can understand why it's so popular (Atkinson takes on the worthy task of explaining one of the most important times in world history), I don't see the appeal for probably the very same reasons people seem to love it (the amount of detail that went into writing the book). My father and I read this book at the same time. The book is steeped in exacting facts. Those very details are the reason why my dad loved this book while I didn't (I ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You couldn't ask for more from Rick Atkinson. His Liberation Trilogy is simply amazing, and this third installment might be the best of the the bunch. Atkinson captures the tragedies of the worst conflict in the history of mankind in such a way that will leave tears welling in your eyes. There is an element of poetry in his writing and the way he constructs his narrative. I can't imagine anyone better suited to tackle such a project. Special. ...more
Mike Kershaw
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
D Plus 69

Last night as I settled down on the couch to watch the “News Hour”, I was treated to an interview by Rick Atkinson on his new book, “The Guns at Last Light”. It was 69 years ago that the US Army participated in Operation Overlord and the invasion of Normandy, which Atkinson highlighted was only the beginning of an exceptionally bitter and bloody campaign. ‘The Guns at Last Light’ is the third volume in Atkinson's trilogy on America's involvement in World War II in Europe. He began with
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
― “A killing frost struck England in the middle of May 1944, stunting the plum trees and the berry crops. Stranger still was a persistent drought. Hotels posted admonitions above their bathtubs: “The Eighth Army crossed the desert on a pint a day. Three inches only, please.” British newspapers reported that even the king kept “quite clean with one bath a week in a tub filled only to a line which he had painted on it.” Gale winds from the north grounded most Allied bombers flying from East Anglia ...more
Joseph Stieb
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
There are limits to my enjoyment of narrative military history: without maps, I'm lost on where units are moving; I don't really care about the squabbling between generals, and to some extent battles blur together for me. However, writers like Atkinson have such rich sources, and his writing is so good, that it mostly cancels out these other factors. This books is particularly good on A. The experiences and perspectives of soldiers, especially how they thought about the moral impact of the war. ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I just finished Guns at Last Light. This was the third book in Rick Atkinson’s trilogy on WWII’s Western Theatre. In my opinion it is the best book of the three. I was surprised by just how terrible the fighting was as the allies closed in on Germany. I had assumed that the Germans just gave up after the Bulge. Boy was I wrong.

This book is full of terrible stories that will provide plenty of material for future nightmares. Atkinson recounts several episodes of frontline SS troopers killing inno
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing

This was the last book in Rick Atkinson Liberation Trilogy and just like the preceding books, this one was an absolute masterpiece. In the grand scheme of things I am still very much a student of WWII but I have read several books about it and this tour de force is simply head and shoulders above the rest. To use a word that is as popular in this trilogy as it is in other books about military history: this series was a juggernaut. Atkinson is truly a master and I hope he wins another Pulitzer pr
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Why yet another book on the battle for Western Europe in World War II? It’s a story oft told, but seldom as well told as by Rick Atkinson. Atkinson set a high standard for popular military history in his earlier books about the American involvement in the Western Theater. He has succeeded once again in The Guns at Last Light, the third and last volume of his Liberation Trilogy.

Atkinson sprinkles his narrative with relatively unknown (at least by me) small-scale anecdotes without ever losing view
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Arguably the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany in 1944-1945 (by the allies) is one of the most well-documented military campaigns of all time. Mr. Atkinson has written a book that covers a very well trod path. There is no new ground to break. No startling revelations.As a result he has written a competent, readable account of the last eleven months of WWII in Western Europe. This is large history covering strategy, politics, economics, logistics, battles, human psychology and loss. ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any history and military buffs.
Recommended to Louis by: I have read the other two. They recommend themselves.
I will read this as soon as it comes out. The other two books in this trilogy were excellent and the most informative books on our involvement in WW II in the Western Theater. I think the best so far was the first and how we learned and created a world class Army and fighting force. These books give the good and the bad. I can hardly wait.
Jesper Jorgensen
What can I say other than when I got started for real - the lix number is in the upper end, for me anyway, and I had to 'tune in' on the book - I could not leave it. (A summer holiday with room for extended periods of reading helped a lot) ...more
Mal Warwick
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction

If you were born after 1950 or so, and you think at all about the Second World War, it’s probably little more to you than an event shrouded in history — a big one, of course, but one that ended two generations ago and is now just one of many terrible episodes in a century prone to violence.

Chances are, you have no sense of the magnitude of that epochal event that many historians think of as “the most prodigious undertaking in the history of warfare” and
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
The last of a trilogy about the involvement of the US Army in the War in Europe. I put off reading this one since the battles that took place in Europe are ones I am more familiar with. It was a mistake. Atkinson takes this section of his work to a whole new level. While it does cover a great deal of ground that was familiar he introduced more on the command level as well as the Civilian level. He didn't pull any punches or try to dodge touchy questions, like crime involving allied troops, deser ...more
The Liberation Trilogy is complete. Author Rick Atkinson has wrapped up his magnum opus of World War II with "The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945".

Beginning with a 41 page prologue The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 moves through the assault on fortress Europe at a pace equal to, if not greater than the Allied forces in the slightly over ten months of 1944-1945. The reader needs to take time to peruse the 168 pages of notes and the 36 pages of Sources/Bibliography and
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There is no way a single book is ever going to "finish" World War II. I've been devouring them for years, including the first two installments of the Liberation Trilogy. This book is a beautiful thing, at once informative, suspenseful and poetic. I started this third volume and couldn't put it down, even though many of the dramatic moments are well-known from novels, histories, documentaries and movies. What Atkinson does is awesome: regularly pulling up to look at the global picture but then di ...more
And thus one of the great multi-volume histories of World War II in Europe draws to a close in high fashion as Mr. Atkinson once again shows off his considerable narrative skills. Starting with his previous two volumes, An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 and The Day of Battle The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, Mr. Atkinson has infused fresh blood into a war that has been written about ad nauseam by hundreds of other historians since the war's end. What makes this t ...more
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The third and much-anticpated final volume of Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy. This volume picks up the day after the liberation of Rome on June 5th 1944, at the end of "The Day of Battle", and continues with blow-by-blow account of the D-Day landings at Normany. The preface includes a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the strategic planning behind the invasion and the mammoth logistical planning which made it possible. As one passage states, "amateurs discuss tactics, professionals discuss logi ...more
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the final book in the Liberation trilogy by Rick Atkinson. This is the story of the American involvement in WW II in the European theater told in three parts. This is the part that starts with D-day and goes to the end of the war in May of 1945. This book as well as the trilogy is in my estimation one of the finest works about this conflict I have ever read. Atkinson writes in a way that is very approachable and he has a way of explaining what is going on with simplicity and conciseness ...more
Porter Broyles
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy is a great series on World War II in the Western Theater. The first book, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, focuses on the early stages of the United States involvement in the War in Africa. This period is not covered in as much detail in most history books, but played a crucial role in America’s evolution as a military force. Allied forces made many mistakes in Africa, but learned from them. The Armies had to learn how to fight and work together.

The second book, discus
Rebecca Wilson
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: histories, american, war
This trilogy was my Big Reading Project of 2017 (finished with a few hours to spare!). It is a masterful, cohesive recounting of American efforts in North Africa and Europe, and the last installment is BY FAR the best. Atkinson reined in his flowery tendencies, and it’s the only one of the three books that deserves to be as long as it is. Patton, Eisenhower, Montgomery (grr!), Stalin, Bradley all get a lot of space, as do the letters home of regular enlisted men – unglamorous but truly affecting ...more
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Rick Atkinson, editor, is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and historian who worked for twenty-five years as a correspondent and editor for The Washington Post. He is the author of several books, including the acclaimed Liberation Trilogy about World War II: An Army at Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History, The Day of Battle, and The Guns at Last Light, as well as The British Are Comin ...more

Other books in the series

World War II Liberation Trilogy (3 books)
  • An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1)
  • The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #2)

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