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The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (World War II Liberation Trilogy #3)

4.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,422 Ratings  ·  524 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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47th out of 100 books — 741 voters
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Community Reviews

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Jun 16, 2013 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing
He stuck the landing.

Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy began with the 2002 publication of An Army at Dawn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the invasion of North Africa in World War II. Five years later, he followed that with The Day of Battle, a monumental retelling of the invasion of Sicily and the hard slog through Italy. Now, in grand fashion, he has given us the capstone to his ambitious historical-literary project: The Guns at Last Light.

This volume, the longest of the three, covers
Nathan Trachta
May 08, 2013 Nathan Trachta 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
Aug 21, 2013 Whitley 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
Rick Riordan
Dec 20, 2013 Rick Riordan 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
Aug 26, 2015 Fergie 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
Jul 14, 2013 happy 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
Jan 10, 2014 Hudson 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 04, 2013 Louis 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.
Aug 15, 2014 Checkman 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
Mal Warwick
Jul 01, 2014 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing

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
Jan 27, 2014 Sweetwilliam rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 06, 2014 John 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
Mike Kershaw
Jun 07, 2013 Mike Kershaw 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
Mar 05, 2014 Curtiss 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
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
May 09, 2015 Christopher rated it it was amazing
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 AtkinsonAn 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 AtkinsonThe 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 three v ...more
Jul 11, 2013 Kris 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
Jesper Jorgensen
Mar 18, 2015 Jesper Jorgensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, army
For I-don't-know-which-time I have been brought across the invasion beaches of Normandy on June 6 1944, through the struggle to get a foothold and on to the fierce battles in the hedge rows. And once again I have been lead through the breakout and along with 3rd Army's mad dash across France. And one more time read about the bloodbath in the Fallals pocket, the 'Jabo's' and the significance of air superiority. As well as the terrible battles of the Hürtgen Forrest, the Battle of The Bulge and th ...more
Michael Gerald
Jun 25, 2015 Michael Gerald rated it it was amazing
A great work is hard to follow. But this book, the last of a trilogy on the Second World War in Western Europe, is one such follow-up act.

The two previous books, especially The Day of Battle, contain such great prose and narrative of the war. This book is the crown.

I wish Rick Atkinson can also pour such equally great talent in writing a book or two about the Second World War in Asia. His trilogy on the war in Europe is a classic and I hope if he ever writes about the war in Asia, I am almost s
Apr 29, 2014 Sumit rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle_avb
Marvelous book, Extremely rich in detail and a great conclusion to the account of allied efforts in west.
Book took off from D day, with justified emphasis on all stakeholders involved. Author gives view not only as seen by 4 star field marshals, but how a private pulling the trigger on the ground sees it. Book covers all major battles such as Normandy landings, liberation of Paris, Dragoon, Market garden, Battle of Bulge, and final push from Rhine to Berlin.
Lots of insights are provided regard
Peter Goodman
May 29, 2014 Peter Goodman rated it it was amazing

“The Guns at Last Light: the war in western Europe, 1944-1945,” by Rick Atkinson (Henry Holt, 2013). The culmination of the trilogy that includes “An Army at Dawn,” the US Army in Africa; “The Day of Battle,” the US Army in Sicily and Italy. Here we go from D-Day till just after VE Day. I may be a little spoiled by Atkinson---no, not really, this is as enthralling as the first two, and he had a higher barrier to overcome. The last year of the war in Europe is so familiar. There have been so many
Oct 16, 2013 Kaufmak rated it it was amazing
As you might have guessed from my recent reviews of old dissertation books, I've read a lot of history. For the most part they all fell into the academic style. That style being bled dry of interesting language, compelling narrative or anything resembling entertainment. Relatively few of the books I read for my dissertation or comprehensive exams were memorable, let alone entertaining. History, like so many other disciplines, has books published for a small audience, only read by an even smaller ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Marks54 rated it really liked it
This book is a descriptive/journalistic account of WWII in Western Europe from D-Day until the defeat of Germany told by a Washington Post correspondent on military affairs. It is the third book in a trilogy, whose first volume covers the war in North Africa - which I read and much enjoyed -- and whose second volume covers the war in Sicily and Italy. I will likely read that soon.

A natural question that others have asked is what to expect from a new book about what is arguably one of the most wr
Liz Waters
Apr 08, 2013 Liz Waters rated it it was amazing
"The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe 1944-1945" finishes Rick Atkinson's "Liberation Trilogy" a series that pretty much covers, in depth, the entire European theatre of World War II. Did I say "in depth"? That hardly says it accurately. The details in this book alone bring together pretty much the entire field of knowledge about the European campaign. I have not read the first two volumes in the trilogy, but if they are as detailed in their presentation of the African campaign and ...more
Washington Post
In this, the third volume of his Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson reconstructs the period from D-Day to V-E Day by weaving a multitude of tiny details into a tapestry of sublime prose. He conveys the immensity of the war, the absurdity, the heroism and iniquity, the pomposity of generals and politicians. His capacity for whimsy provides welcome respite from the oppressive horror. “The Guns at Last Light” is a very long book, but in contrast to so many popular histories, this one seems too short ...more
Scott L.
Sep 01, 2013 Scott L. rated it really liked it
Of the three books in the "American Army" trilogy, this one was probably the most readable and the one that I most enjoyed. Atkinson once again tells the story of the American Army in World War II, this time in the European Theater. He follows with the many personalities, even the Generals who sometimes don't get enough credit for their accomplishments, such as Hodges, Patch and Devers. He also does a great job at balancing the Allied effort, while making the strong point that it was the United ...more
Mar 21, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Five stars, that's just what Ike got.

I read book one of the Liberation Trilogy - An Army at Dawn - two years ago, and for some reason skipped book two - The Day of Battle. Happenstance in browsing the public library's stacks dropped book three - The Guns at Last Light - into my hands. Book two was checked out.

Whatever four star praise I had for An Army at Dawn goes in spades for The Guns at Last Light. Rick Atkinson is a masterful writer, and he's given us not only good history, but a highly eng
Howard Cincotta
Aug 11, 2015 Howard Cincotta rated it it was amazing
Objective: unconditional completion of the book. Strategic overview: 641 pages (hardback), plus extensive footnotes, sources, bibliography, index, photos. Plan of attack: perhaps a double envelopment, picking sections from the back along with reading from the front – like Hannibal’s defeat of the Romans at Cannae – a battle that many WW II generals sought to emulate, often unsuccessfully. But finally, like Normandy, there is nothing for it but a direct frontal assault, page by page.

By this third
Michael Harpold
Jun 12, 2014 Michael Harpold rated it it was amazing
My second reading of this masterful narrative of the final year of WWII. Overshadowed perhaps by the drama of D-day, the slog across France, the low countries and finally Germany was tough and bloody. More American GI's died in the last full month of the war in Europe, April 1945, than in the first month of the invasion. From the infighting between Eisenhower and British Field Marshall Montgomery to the suffering of individual GI's in frozen foxholes, Atkinson's account has the feel of the full ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45
  • The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach
  • Fire In The Sky: The Air War In The South Pacific
  • Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942
  • Ardennes 1944: Hitler's Last Gamble
  • Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
  • A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge
  • Crusade in Europe
  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
  • The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe 1940-1945
  • The Battle of Midway
  • Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris; June 6 - Aug. 5, 1944
  • Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
  • Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal
  • Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
  • The Third Reich At War (The History of the Third Reich, #3)
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...

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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“In the first half of 1944, battle casualty rates for every 1,000 bomber crewmen serving six months in combat included 712 killed or missing and 175 wounded: 89 percent. By one calculation, barely one in four U.S. airmen completed twenty-five missions over Germany, a minimum quota that was soon raised to thirty and then thirty-five on the assumption that the liberation of France and Belgium and the attenuation of German airpower made flying less lethal.” 1 likes
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