The Guns at Last Light: Book summary and reviews of The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson

The Guns at Last Light

The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy)

By Rick Atkinson

The Guns at Last Light
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  • Published in USA  May 2013,
    896 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

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"Starred Review. Superb… The book is distinguished by its astonishing range of coverage… [Atkinson's] lively, occasionally lyric prose brings the vast theater of battle, from the beaches of Normandy deep into Germany, brilliantly alive. It is hard to imagine a better history of the western front's final phase." - Publishers Weekly

"With a mastery of sources that support nearly every sentence, Atkinson achieves a military history with few peers as an overview of the 1944-45 campaigns in Western Europe." - Booklist

"The book stands out from others on World War II because it successfully explores the fallibility of participants at all levels…This is not a detailed account of any one particular battle but a sweeping epic, yet it is packed with fascinating details. Highly recommended to all who read World War II history." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Superb… Atkinson brings his Liberation Trilogy to a resounding close… An outstanding work of popular history, in the spirit of William Manchester and Bruce Catton." - Kirkus

"[An] extraordinary accomplishment. This is a beautifully written, moving account of one of the most bittersweet chapters in modern history… The details build a stunning and precise account of major movements - from Normandy to Paris, from the South of France to Grenoble - and close-up portraits of famous figures that make them living, breathing beings." - Smithsonian Magazine

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Rick Atkinson is the bestselling author of An Army at Dawn (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history), The Day of Battle, The Long Gray Line, In the Company of Soldiers, and Crusade. His many other awards include a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, the George Polk award, and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award. A former staff writer and senior editor at The Washington Post, he lives in Washington, D.C.

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