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

by Rick Atkinson

Hardcover, 2013

Call number

940.54 ATK



Henry Holt and Co. (2013), Edition: First Edition, 896 pages


Tells the dramatic story of the titanic battle for Western Europe from D-Day to the thrust to the heart of the Third Reich. This book is 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-led coalition fought through North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now he tells the most dramatic story of all -- the titanic battle for Western Europe. D-Day marked the commencement of the final campaign of the European war, and Atkinson's riveting account of that bold gamble sets the pace for the masterly narrative that follows. The brutal fight in Normandy, the liberation of Paris, the disaster that was Operation Market Garden, the horrific Battle of the Bulge, and finally the thrust to the heart of the Third Reich -- all these historic events and more come alive with a wealth of new material and a mesmerizing cast of characters. Atkinson tells the tale from the perspective of participants at every level, from presidents and generals to war-weary lieutenants and terrified teenage riflemen. When Germany at last surrenders, we understand anew both the devastating cost of this global conflagration and the enormous effort required to win the Allied victory. With the stirring final volume of this monumental trilogy, Atkinson's accomplishment is manifest. He has produced the definitive chronicle of the war that unshackled a continent and preserved freedom in the West. - Publisher.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Kunikov
Although I usually remain mired in books dedicated to the Eastern Front of the Second World War, when offered the opportunity to receive an advance reader’s copy of ‘The Guns at Last Light’, I was happy to dive into the history of the Western Front. For all the praise the previous two volumes
Show More
written by Atkinson received I was expecting something out of the ordinary. That, unfortunately, was not what I found. Speaking as someone who has studied history and the Second World War for over a decade, this is a good book for hobbyists and those new to the topic, but nothing groundbreaking. One can easily tell this is a journalistic effort (akin to what Max Hastings has written previously) as the author deals with the equivalent of sound bites of information. Atkinson all too often relies on emotional narratives to tell a story many are already familiar with. Without superfluous information that can be found on practically every page (needless descriptions of the sky and ground, or counting the paper plates, napkins, and bottles of alcohol needed for the participants of the Yalta conference), this book could have been reduced by 100-200 pages and still retained its readability and fluid historical narrative.

Coming in at 640 pages, this is a book that will take you days if not weeks to finish. For those unfamiliar with the Second World War or the Western Front, this makes for a good grounding and introduction. Some of the most interesting passages discuss and showcase the troubles Eisenhower encountered in Europe while dealing with the likes of British and French commanders whose egos often took center stage. Too often their ineptitude and callous disregard for their allies resulted in missed opportunities and needless casualties straining relations and nerves on a daily basis. Combined with logistical difficulties that took numerous divisions out of the line and held up offensive operations along the front, the achievements of the allies need to be lauded when seen for what they were able to overcome. Descriptions of the more important battles – Normandy, Market Garden, Hürtgen Forest, and the Ardennes offensive – get the usual majority of attention. But other operations are also touched on with allied failures and missed opportunities coming to the forefront of what little analysis is offered. I was surprised to see the limited coverage of the liberation of concentration and labor camps; at most one or two dozen pages were devoted to the discovery of the genocidal campaign waged by the Third Reich.

Atkinson commands a wide range of knowledge when it comes to the history of the Western Front and the bibliography and endnotes attest to that. Unfortunately, the best he can do is regurgitate all that information for his readers while practically omitting any analytical conclusions. What analysis there is usually comes from quotes of participants, ranging from the highest echelons of the military and government to the average private in a foxhole. The end result is that while at times there is some analysis for why the allies were successful in their operations (again, mainly relying on quotes and opinions of participants and at times historians) there is an obvious lack of such scrutiny for the axis. Furthermore, when stepping outside of the Western Front there is an obvious lack of context.

The Eastern Front is mentioned numerous times throughout this volume. The harsh conditions German formations experienced against the Red Army are often the barometer which German soldiers measure the western allies against. In one case, during operation Market Garden, a German soldier comments that he’s fought a battle harder than any he experienced in Russia. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know exactly what he experienced on the Eastern Front; thus there is no real way to qualify this statement with what we know about the Eastern Front. As much as this quote adds to our understanding of the violence that was encountered, the reader is also left wanting more and not knowing how to contextualize what he’s just read. While this is a rather minor point, similar weaknesses are evident throughout the text. Another example is when discussing the offensive in the Ardennes. Instead of pointing out that the allies asked the Red Army to move up their offensive in January to help alleviate the damage done by the German attack, the author contends that the German forces utilized in the Ardennes made possible the success of the Soviet January offensive. This is a rather cheap attempt to make amends for the mistakes the western allies made and make further sense of the casualties they suffered.

Nevertheless, for all its faults and weaknesses ‘The Guns at Last Light’ showcases that the ‘clean’ war of good vs. evil that is so often portrayed in the media was hardly the case on the ground. The liberation of Europe was a multi-faceted event that took the lives of hundreds of thousands on both sides and extended the suffering to the civilian sector at every step of the way – from allied bombing raids to German and allied reprisals. Those interested in an introduction to the western allied campaign in Europe would do well to invest in this volume while keeping in mind that this is still a 640 page tip of a much larger iceberg.
Show Less
LibraryThing member magicians_nephew
The Guns at Last Light is the conclusion of an amazing achievement, three books about large scale "armies of Liberation" on the move during World War II.

This one is about the last year of the war in Europe, from D-Day to the fall of Berlin and beyond.

Atkinson's genius is to tell the story about
Show More
soldiers on the division level and by the squad, in clear sharp easy to understand prose that never loses sight of the fact that there are people down there peering through the fog of battle and making guesses that sometimes win battles - and sometimes lose them.

He can flash effortlessly from generals in their command posts (sometimes fantastically equipped manor houses and chateaus) to privates crouching in a basement waiting for the flames to die down.

He is a master of the little vignette that perfectly sums up the moment.He has read letters, newspaper reports, diaries, and it all shows.

He looks over the shoulders of Dwight Eisenhower, and Bradley and Patton, and some lesser lights too. The conventional wisdom I think about Ike was that he wasn't much of a combat general, but he was good at holding the Allied Coalition together. This book sheds some light on both sides of that "but".

Some people seem to think that the war was over and done after the D-Day Landings. Those people ought to get out more.

And if you're the kind of person who doesn't reads military history, generally, well you might just give this one a try.

"The Battle of the Bugle had affirmed once again that war is never limited, but rather a chaotic, desultory enterprise of reversal and advance, blunder and elan, despair and elation".

It takes a great writer to describe chaos and make you see it - and make you understand it.

Very highly recommended
Show Less
LibraryThing member pjlambert
I received an advanced copy as Librarything Early Reviewer: A great book overall. Despite not having read the previous two volumes (which was not a problem since I a very aware of the campaigns leading up to the advance through western Europe), I found the book comprehensive and with enough detail
Show More
to satisfy most history buffs of WWII. Many non-historians association with this era of the war come from the movie Patton, or other mass-market genre films, so Atkinson's characterization of folks such as Bradley and Montgomery may come as a surprise. I was surprised to see how really chaotic the leadership of the French really was, and the impact it had on the Allies decision-making. Likewise, I was glad to see good coverage of Montgomery's antics on the northern part of the front (Market Garden, et al). I was somewhat distracted by the anecdotes of the individual soldiers, some seem either mis-placed, mis-timed, or just not contributory to the narrative.
I will definitely go back and read the previous two volumes!
Show Less
LibraryThing member K.G.Budge
The final volume of Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy. This was by far the best of the three, a genuine page turner. Not nearly the slog that the Italy volume was.

So, yet another book on the war in northwest Europe. What new things did this one have to offer?

The account of Dragoon, and the campaign in
Show More
southern France, is more complete than I've seen anywhere else. Atkinson kinda sorta admires Devers. He kinda sorta understands why the French were so difficult. (One French general made a remark at the end of the war to the effect that "We have fought these many months, often on the same side.")

The account of the Rhine battles is very thorough, not eclipsed by the Ardennes offensive, as is the case in so many other histories.

Montgomery is a pompous ass even in Atkinson's telling, but Atkinson buys the idea that Montgomery meant all along for the Americans to break out after the British pinned the Germans down. Atkinson has dug up some quotes that almost make this believable.

Atkinson gives a very balanced perspective on Patton, making him neither superhero nor overrated miscreant. He admires Patton's campaigns of movement but does not pull punches about the bungled POW rescue attempt or Patton's effort to slather lipstick on the pig that was the Sherman tank.

There's no whitewashing the awfulness of war, as waged by either side. But he offers no apologies for Allied victories. I could probably do without the clucking over the Americans who summarily executed a bunch of concentration camp guards. I've got a feeling they could have been successfully defended by reference to the Lieberman Code and the clauses in the Geneva and Hague conventions about the laws of war not protecting those who grossly violate the laws of war.

So, I can find nits to pick. But I think you all would much enjoy this one. As I said, much better than the second volume in the trilogy.
Show Less
LibraryThing member worcester
The third volume of Atkinson's history of the U.S. Army in the European Theater of Operations is a a satisfying conclusion to his Liberation Trilogy. As with the first two volumes, Atkinson's audience is the reader of popular history and he does a fine job of setting his military history into the
Show More
the larger context of political, diplomatic and logistics matters which dominated the final year of the war in Europe. The war in North West Europe in 1944-45 has long been the focus of popular histories (Ryan, Keegan and Ambrose come to mind). While Atkinson covers the major battles as well as any of these, he also offers some insight into areas not often the focus of other popular historians such as the role of French ground forces in the area around Strasbourg and the encirclement of the Ruhr by American forces after the crossing of the Rhine. The best of his work in this volume are moving passages on the liberation of the concentration camps and the repatriation of the American dead following the war.

Atkinson's faults are minor and remain the same as in his other works, an overabundance of biographical detail on supporting players in his narrative and the occasional overly long focus on battles of indeterminate outcome. Still, The Guns at Last Light is very good and well worth the read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member 5hrdrive
Terrific final chapter of the epic "Liberation Trilogy", to my mind second only to Shelby Foote's The Civil War in retelling the story of an entire war. Amazing to think that this is only part of the story of World War II though, and seen through the viewpoint of only a few of the combatants.
Show More
Still, a really moving account masterfully told. Highly recommended.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Leischen
With this book, Atkinson brings his "Liberation Trilogy" to a close. The trilogy will long stand as the "go to" resource for information on the Allied actions in World War II. Atkinson gives ample coverage to the "big" battles-D Day, Market Garden and the Bulge-while still providing a detailed
Show More
history on less famous confrontations-the invasion of Southern France, Aachen & the final push of the Anglo-American forces into Germany. Interspersed through the history are details on the famous and many not so famous participants. Atkinson never forgets the little guys who persevered through the long slog to victory. In many cases, the most poignant part of the history is shown in the reactions of families on the home front when reminiscing on a loved one lost in the conflict. This book and the entire trilogy is highly recommended as a definitive work of history for the general reader.
Show Less
LibraryThing member IslandDave
I received this advance copy as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I have read the first two books in the Liberation Trilogy previously, and found both to be overwhelmingly immersive large-scale narratives of the European Theater of WWII from a decidedly US viewpoint. Eagerly, I
Show More
jumped into Atkinson's finale and found a solid but somewhat mixed result.

The pieces are all there in this third book in the trilogy, but unlike the first two books, where we got solid details of fighting in Africa, Sicily, and Italy, this book felt compacted. Individual battles and movements were consumed in the overriding larger narrative. Despite the length, this book would best have been split in two, with action up through Market Garden being the first book, and the winter campaigns and run into Berlin the second. Because so much was packed into this book, whole pieces of the narrative are rushed through in order to get to what Atkinson wanted to focus on. I didn't get this from the first two books and would have loved for the author to slow down a bit and give the reader more detail of actions and decisions at the front-line level. So much of the narrative takes place at the general officer level that the soldier fighting for his life and that of his buddies is often glossed over. While there are certainly some decent scenes of battle described, I agree with another reviewer who mentioned the anecdotal nature of the narrative.

The battle maps are excellent, as expected, and overall, despite the drawbacks, this is a solid narrative of the war in Europe in 1944 and 1945. Certainly by no means an exhaustive study of the campaigns nor of the participants, but a decent read for anyone wanting a general officer-level view of the defeat of Germany.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
This is the concluding volume of Atkinson's overpowering study of the recovery of western Europe from the nazi tyranny. The account of D-Day and of he drive from Normandy to Paris is excellently told. I found the account of the events after the fall of Paris till the Battle of the Bulge somewhat
Show More
plodding but the Bulge and the time thereafter to the sheer relief of the end of the war in May 1945 is excellent reading and totally caught me up. Ths summation set out in the Epilogue I thought very well done, and emotionally overpowering. For those who participated in those momentous events the memory cannot help but be mind-boggling; yet i could not help but be glad I was a couple years too young to have undergone the events in a more personal way. I thought the handling of the tension between the generals was well-handled, and though it is clear that Montgomery was a pain and that one can be glad he did not get his way more than he did, yet he is not demonized and that the American generals were not always right either is clear. This is a stupendous book which I am glad I was able to read and savor.
Show Less
LibraryThing member octafoil40
I have just started reading this final book of The Liberation Trilogy and find that, having read just the 41 pages of his Prologue, I am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of this book after having read the first two volumes of this Trilogy. The author incorporates actual verbatim
Show More
statements of many of the combatants who have related their observations and feeling during the storming of the Normandy beaches. This style effectively gives the reader the aura of actually being present observing the actual events himself.
Show Less
LibraryThing member RoseCityReader
With The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 Rick Atkinson completes his esteemed World War II "Liberation Trilogy." As with the first two volumes, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 and The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, Atkinson
Show More
focuses on the role of the US military in the planning and execution of the Allies' D-Day invasion and liberation of Western Europe.

Atkinson deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize for An Army at Dawn. This last volume is written in the same engaging, journalistic style, incorporating letters, newspaper articles, and personal diaries. The Guns at Last Light is a rousing accomplishment.
Show Less
LibraryThing member labdaddy4
Excellent - detailed - thorough - this is one of the best works of history I have ever read. An amazing look into the personalities and interactions of all the major allied (western) generals. At the same time the author takes you into the lives of the "grunts", junior officers, and non-coms.

Show More
imagine some could quibble with how much time was spent - or not spent - on various aspects, but I feel Atkinson got it right. This is an amazing compilation and accounting of the war in western Europe from the western allies' (non-Soviet) point of view.
Show Less
LibraryThing member nbmars
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
Show More
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 of the major strategic issues faced by the allies. Moreover, nearly every chapter contains at least one excellent map to guide the reader through the details of the geographical maneuvering of the armies.

A major theme discussed throughout the book was the bickering among various generals and political leaders about the correct strategy to defeat the Nazis. Churchill bitterly opposed the Allies landing in Southern France after the Normandy invasion, preferring instead bolstering the attack in Italy. Although Churchill and Roosevelt had agreed that an American (Eisenhower) would be Supreme Commander of the allied forces, they apparently never fully convinced British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery that he should not be (in some cases, was not) in command. An even pricklier “ally” was the imperious Charles De Gaulle, who managed to provoke the enmity of every non-Frenchman with whom he dealt. One British wit said that a staple of De Gaulle’s diet was the hand that fed him. Eisenhower once told George Marshall, “Next to the weather, the French have caused me more trouble than any other single factor. They even rank above landing craft.”

Some of the juicy details that vivified the narrative were:

Prior to D-Day, the Allies identified senior German railway officials for assassination by the French resistance in order to complicate enemy logistics once the invasion took place.

GI’s who received the Medal of Honor also received a $2 per month raise.

American dentists extracted 15 million teeth (more than one per soldier) from the men serving in the military during the war.

Daily combat consumption (from fuel to ammunition to cigarettes) was 41,298 pounds per soldier!

Churchill was said to speak French “remarkably well, but understands very little.”

The U.S. Army hospitalized 929,000 men for “neuropsychiatric” reasons (battle fatigue, shell shock, or PTSD) during the war, including as many as one in four during the Battle of the Bulge.

Atkinson is even-handed in his evaluation of the actions of key leaders, which often means he is highly critical of them. Montgomery and De Gaulle are seen as capable, but monumentally egotistical. Patton is shown to be an able tank commander, but occasionally very unwise, as with his unimaginative tactics to take the city of Metz.

Evaluation: This book can serve as an excellent introduction to the war in Western Europe for readers unfamiliar with those events, but it can also be edifying for those who have read a great deal about them. I highly recommend it.

Show Less
LibraryThing member stevesmits
The Guns at Last Light is the third volume of Rick Atkinson's trilogy on the Allied war effort in Western Europe in WWII. Volumes one and two tell of the North African and Italian campaigns. This final volume gives the account of the war from D-Day to V-E Day. Like the first two volumes, the
Show More
history of this huge, complex and multi-faceted endeavor is remarkably well-told.

Atkinson takes on a number of themes throughout the narrative. He explains the strategy of the leaders and war planners, including the sharp divergences of opinion among the Allied powers on how to best proceed. He describes the leadership of the Western armies and is critical and praising in his assessments, particularly of Eisenhower and Montgomery. He recounts the battles in terms that are clear and lucid. In many military histories battlefield maneuvers are hard to follow, but Atkinson is good at making things understandable. The excellent maps are a great aid here. He also portrays the tenacity of Axis resistence which, given the obvious hopelessness of their situation, speaks to their rabid allegience to the Reich.

Perhaps most noteworthy, however, is the book's portrayal of the war through the experiences of the average GI. One really gets a sense of how the soldiers perceived the horror, angst, fear and sorrow that was visited with intensity on the millions of soldiers and airmen who mounted this phenomenal conflict.

There might be a tendency, since the war in the western theater was concluded in less than one year from the invasion at Normandy, that the final push to victory was a cake walk. Atkinson's book shows that this is a totally fallacious view; the war over those months was incredibly destructive and as tough on its participants as any in history.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jamespurcell
An excellent finish to a great trilogy. Good story well told with broad strokes for the strategic view and vivid personal vignettes for detail and insight. Hopefully, Atlkinson is well underway with a parallel series for the Pacific. His culminating series could be one on the painful, costly
Show More
discovery and evolution of the skills and art of generalship. There were not many good generals and thankfully, many good men.
Show Less
LibraryThing member RobertP
Superbly written military and social history, albeit from a very American point-of-view, that said, Mr. atkinson seems to me scrupulously fair, and what is rare in this kind of history, does not judge the actors at the time by modern lights.
LibraryThing member mrpotter
If you enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy, you are going to buy this book regardless.The same format is used in this final piece.
This is not an all encompassing history of WWII. This is the American perspective, in Europe during WWII. Churchill and Monty make appearances, but the focus is
Show More
on the American Army, top to bottom.
The author uses many first person accounts which take the reader from the top with men like Eisenhower, Marshall and Churchill, all the way down to the lowest private on the line. This format brings into focus the challenges faced by the army from June ‘44 through May ‘45. These include the lack of planning on the part of the Allies after they were off the D-Day beaches, the terrain, the lack of fuel, Monty, the supply issues faced by all the armies, the weather.
I really enjoyed this book and I feel like I learned many new details about the war in Europe from it. I was able to follow the action pretty easily. Maps appear in the chapters when they are needed. Some battle histories are filled with unit names and it can make it a challenge to follow the narrative. Mr. Atkinson does not lose that narrative. There is just enough of that type of information to provide the information and not lose the train of thought.
I felt like the section on Malta and the end of the book was a little rushed and not as detailed as the rest of the book or the previous 2 books in the trilogy.I felt like there was more to learn about in these sections and this just didn't feel as fulfilling and satisfying as the rest of the trilogy.
I highly recommend this book and the other two books in the trilogy, if you are looking for a well written and entertaining look at the American Army as it fights its way across the Continent during WWII, you can’t go wrong with this book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member sross008
I'm exhausted after reading this second in the trilogy, and feel perhaps like the surviving soldiers--finally the inevitable end, but anti-climatic all the same. I searched in vain for reference to my father's storyline, and I'm sure it was embedded somewhere in the author's haunting explorations
Show More
of Ardennes Forest battles and the prelude to the Battle of the Bulge...just another WIA casualty whose personal experience of the war came to an abrupt end. Atkinson splendidly tells the story of humanity's ultimate triumph against the greatest historical evil ever documented, and so epic was the atrocity, with such wide-ranging consequences, it feels like recent history. The world may forever be weary.
Show Less
LibraryThing member corgiiman
This is another excellent addition to the Liberation trilogy. World War II historians should not miss this contribution to the literary history. Sorry it is over and look forward to the next project by Rick Atkinson.
LibraryThing member Hedgepeth
A fitting conclusion to the Liberation Trilogy. Atkinson once again brings to the forefront items that I have yet to encounter in my reading. The struggle between Ike and Monty were laid out with no apologies. Likewise, Atkinson is willing to question Ike's decisions. The months between D-day and
Show More
the Bulge are well covered reminding us that there was much more to Europe than those two battles. I hope after a brief rest that he will turn his pen to the Pacific.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Castlelass
“Twelve years and four months after it began, the Thousand-Year Reich had ended. Humanity would require decades, perhaps centuries, to parse the regime’s inhumanity, and to comprehend how a narcissistic beerhall demagogue had wrecked a nation, a continent, and nearly a world.”

The third book
Show More
in the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson covers the last year of World War II in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, parts of the Netherlands, and Germany. It covers the Allied invasion at Normany, liberation of Paris, Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge, Yalta Conference, liberation of the death camps, and the final signing of the surrender document. It covers everything from the leaders’ strategic decisions (and disagreements) to the personal thoughts of the soldier on the battlefield, as written in letters to loved ones at home. Hitler’s decisions and those of his field marshals are not neglected, though not covered in as much detail.

Rick Atkinson is a gifted writer who knows how to turn a phrase:

• On the Normandy Invasion – Omaha Beach:
“They remembered the shapeless dead, sprawled on the strand like smears of divine clay, or as flotsam on the making tide, weltering, with their life belts still cinched. All this they would remember, from the beaten zone called Omaha.”

• On the Battle of the Bulge:
“To be sure, there were clues, omens, auguries. Just as surely, they were missed, ignored, explained away. For decades after the death struggle called the Battle of the Bulge, generals, scholars, and foot soldiers alike would ponder the worst U.S. intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor and the deadliest of the war. Only from the high ground of history could perfect clarity obtain, and even then the simplest, truest answer remained the least satisfying: mistakes were made and many men died.”

• On Yalta and the damage to Russia:
“Soon a weaving convoy of sedans and buses followed the unpaved road to Yalta, eighty miles and five hours away. No photograph or Movietone footage could have more vividly conveyed to the Western Allies the intensity of the war being waged by their eastern comrades: mile upon mile of gutted buildings, barns, crofts, trains, tanks, trucks. Peasant women in shawls and knee boots waved from barren fields and from orchards reduced to flinders. Except for a few sheep, no livestock could be seen, or farm machinery, or men for that matter.”

This book is non-fiction at its best. Atkinson’s researched sources and notes cover 235 pages of content in the appendix. Numerous helpful maps are included. It will appeal to anyone seeking to fathom not only the sweeping advances of the Allied forces, but also the human components of war. The many factors are examined, such as psychological factors, decision-making with incomplete information, competing priorities, balancing the viewpoints of many countries’ leaders, and the immense physical and ethical damage to both soldiers and civilians. All these are conveyed in vivid detail. Anyone who wants to know what truly happened in WWII should read this trilogy.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rivkat
Third volume in Atkinson’s trilogy on the US part of WWII in Europe. It’s still gripping and frustrating by turns (the screwups that led to Market Garden, for example), but what I really noticed this time was the tenderness and longing with which these most prototypical of American tough guys
Show More
wrote home to wives and parents. Men like Eisenhower did not hesitate to tell women how much they loved and missed them; we have flattened our concept of tough guys in really sad ways over the past fifty years.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JesperCFS2
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
Show More
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 the epic Siege of Bastogne.

And one more time I have read that General Patton was a flamboyant personality and that he still did not got through the Siegfried Line 'like shit through a goose'. That 'Monty' was meticulous and not overly popular among he's American peers but very popular among his men. And that Eisenhower was as much a politician, with solid skills in 'human resources management, as he was a general.

This time I also learned quite a bit of the role and deeds of the French Army and the internal strife among it's generals. That Charles de Gaulle was headstrong and self-conscious and that his nickname - among others - was 'Deux Metres'.

All this together with appalling accounts of deaths by the thousands, sufferings, atrocities, madness, annihilation, heroism and cowardice. Of seized and missed opportunities as well as right and wrong decisions, all made in the fog of war. It all ending with the final collapse of the Third Reich in May 1945.

This - one more time - left me marveled by the destructive power and the vast amount of materiel and manpower involved. And left me kind of surprised that all this 'only' lasted for eleven months.

I don't know where Rick Atkinson differs from other great authors like Antony Beevor, Max Hastings or Stephen E. Ambrose, but there is this 'something'. And I can't define that 'something'; It may be the language, it may be the 'flow' in the book, it may be . . . ?

Bottom line is that I can only recommend this book whole-hearted to any and every person who take an interest in the subject. That be the casual reader as well as the reader with many book 'under the belt'

Take care!

Show Less
LibraryThing member whitrichardson
Atkinson's final installment of his Liberation trilogy does not disappoint. Just as his two previous books covered the U.S. Army's operations in North Africa, Sicily and the Italian mainland, THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT leads readers through the harrowing battles of the Normandy hedgerows, the Ardennes,
Show More
Hurtgen Forest and the Rhine. It is a campaign history, but rather than a dry this-army-then-that-army approach Atkinson deploys enough excerpts from soldiers' letters and vignettes of individual experiences during the battles that the reading is smooth and enjoyable.

He also does not place any of the generals on a pedestal. Patton, Eisenhower, Bradley, Montgomery all come in for criticism at one point or another.

I can't wait to find out what he's working on next.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jerry-book
Finished the trilogy. This is a good finish. This had all the characters: Hitler, wStalin, FDR, Churchill, Ike, Patton, Monty, Omar Bradley, Rommel, etc. There are many battles: Omaha Beach, D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, Market Garden, Battle of the Hedge Rows, etc. Germany was doomed but they
Show More
nevertheless put up a strong resistance. Ike does not fight battles but he manages to keep the allies focused on conquering Germany. He has particular problems with General Montgomery. The author shows how the war-weary GI's pressed ahead for victory. There were curious incidents like General Patton's ill fated attempt to send a special mission to rescue his son in law. This book was not the eye opener that "Army At Dawn" was but was still a satisfying read.
Show Less


Society of Midland Authors Award (Winner — Adult Nonfiction — 2014)




0805062904 / 9780805062908
Page: 0.3424 seconds