Cover image for An army at dawn : the war in North Africa, 1942-1943
An army at dawn : the war in North Africa, 1942-1943
Atkinson, Rick.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt & Co., [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 681 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Volume one of the Liberation Trilogy".

Paging varies slightly.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description

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Call Number
Material Type
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D766.82 .A82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D766.82 .A82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
D766.82 .A82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
D766.82 .A82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D766.82 .A82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D766.82 .A82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D766.82 .A82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In the first volume of his monumental trilogy about the liberation of Europe in WW II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the riveting story of the war in North Africa

The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is a story of courage and enduring triumph, of calamity and miscalculation. In this first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson shows why no modern reader can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers without a grasp of the great drama that unfolded in North Africa in 1942 and 1943. That first year of the Allied war was a pivotal point in American history, the moment when the United States began to act like agreat power.

Beginning with the daring amphibious invasion in November 1942, An Army at Dawn follows the American and British armies as they fight the French in Morocco and Algeria, and then take on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. Battle by battle, an inexperienced and sometimes poorly led army gradually becomes a superb fighting force. Central to the tale are the extraordinary but fallible commanders who come to dominate the battlefield: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgomery, and Rommel.

Brilliantly researched, rich with new material and vivid insights, Atkinson's narrative provides the definitive history of the war in North Africa.

Author Notes

Rick Atkinson holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Chicago and is a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and military historian

Atkinson is the author of the highly-acclaimed Liberation Trilogy, The Long Gray Line, In the Company of Soldiers and Crusade. Atkinson received the Pulitzer Prize for the first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943. The second volume, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, drew praise as well.

Atkinson also received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting; and the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for public service, awarded to the Washington Post for a series of investigative articles directed and edited by Atkinson on shootings by the District of Columbia police department. He is winner of the 1989 George Polk Award for national reporting, the 2003 Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award, the 2007 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense, and the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. Atkinson has served as the Gen. Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College. In 2014 his title The Guns at Last Light made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Atkinson, author of the best-selling The Long Grey Line (1989), a chronicle of the West Point class of 1966, here debuts an ambitious three-volume saga about the North African and European theaters of World War II. This first volume covers the conception of Operation Torch through the German surrender in Tunisia in May 1943 and reveals the author's skill in balancing big-picture strategizing with unit-level tactical fighting. And though well researched, Atkinson's diligence is artfully masked by his fluid narrative. To be sure, the author hews to the general historical verdict that Torch was a strategically dubious operation, and the campaign that ensued was the veritable definition of snafu. Atkinson, understanding the inherent terror and confusion of combat, and hence the difficulty in relating it, fixes on the clarifying tool of topography. The ground of every battle is precisely assessed, with the author apprising readers of how often the experienced German army was superior to the green American army in exploiting hills and roads. Having personally tramped over the battlefields in Morocco and Tunisia, Atkinson incorporates their look--the mud, the dust, and the cactus. An exemplary work that feeds anticipation of the succeeding volumes. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Atkinson won a Pulitzer Prize during his time as a journalist and editor at the Washington Post and is the author of The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 and of Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War. In contrast to Crusade's illustrations of technomastery, this book depicts the U.S. Army's introduction to modern war. The Tunisian campaign, Atkinson shows, was undertaken by an American army lacking in training and experience alongside a British army whose primary experience had been of defeat. Green units panicked, abandoning wounded and weapons. Clashes between and within the Allies seemed at times to overshadow the battles with the Axis. Atkinson's most telling example is the relationship of II Corps commander George Patton and his subordinate, 1st Armored Division's Orlando Ward. The latter was a decent person and capable enough commander, but he lacked the final spark of ruthlessness that takes a division forward in the face of heavy casualties and high obstacles. With Dwight Eisenhower's approval, Patton fired him. The result was what Josef Goebbels called a "second Stalingrad"; after Tunisia, the tide of war rolled one way: toward Berlin. Atkinson's visceral sympathies lie with Ward; his subtext from earlier books remains unaltered: in war, they send for the hard men. Despite diction that occasionally lapses into the melodramatic, general readers and specialists alike will find worthwhile fare in this intellectually convincing and emotionally compelling narrative. (Oct. 2) Forecast: While there's no clear news hook for this title, Atkinson is well known enough to garner readers on name recognition. An eight-city author tour will help raise awareness, as will the marketing of the book as first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Atkinson's study of WWII. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A former staff writer and editor for the Washington Post, Atkinson (The Long Gray Line) here offers the initial volume in a trilogy concerning the liberation of Europe during World War II. The invasion of North Africa was the first joint military operation conducted by the Allies, and it influenced many future decisions. Using battlefield reports and archival material, Atkinson tells a fascinating story of the North African campaign that is hard to stop reading, even though one knows the outcome. He includes the perfect combination of biographical information and tactical considerations, and eyewitness accounts give readers an idea of what the average soldier must have endured. Similar in scope to Stephen Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers or Cornelius Ryan's The Longest Day, this book will have wide appeal for both public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/02.] Mark Ellis, Albany State Univ. Lib., GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From An Army at Dawn: Twenty-seven acres of headstones fill the American military cemetery at Carthage, Tunisia. There are no obelisks, no tombs, no ostentatious monuments, just 2,841 bone-white marble markers, two feet high and arrayed in ranks as straight as gunshots. Only the chiseled names and dates of death suggest singularity. Four sets of brothers lie side by side. Some 240 stones are inscribed with thirteen of the saddest words in our language: "Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God." The stones are devoid of epitaphs, parting endearments, even dates of birth. But visitors familiar with the American and British invasion of North Africa in November 1942, and the subsequent seven-month struggle to expel the Axis powers there, can make reasonable conjectures. We can surmise that Willett H. Wallace, a private first-class in the 26th Infantry Regiment who died on November 9, 1942, was killed at St. Cloud, Algeria, during the three days of hard fighting against the French. And Jacob Feinstein, a sergeant from Maryland in the 135th Infantry who died on April 29, 1943, no doubt passed during the epic battle for Hill 609, where the American Army came of age. Excerpted from An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. xvi
Map Legendp. xvii
Allied Chain of Commandp. xix
Prologuep. 1
Part 1
1. Passagep. 21
A Meeting with the Dutchmanp. 21
Gathering the Shipsp. 33
Rendezvous at Cherchelp. 42
On the Knees of the Godsp. 49
A Man Must Believe in His Luckp. 57
2. Landingp. 69
"In the Night, All Cats Are Grey"p. 69
In Barbaryp. 78
Villainp. 87
To the Last Manp. 91
"Glory Enough for Us All"p. 103
3. Beachheadp. 116
A Sword in Algiersp. 116
A Blue Flag over Oranp. 124
"An Orgy of Disorder"p. 130
Battle for the Kasbahp. 141
"It's All Over for Now"p. 148
Part 2
4. Pushing Eastp. 163
"We Live in Tragic Hours"p. 163
A Cold Country with a Hot Sunp. 167
Medjez-el-Babp. 178
Fat Geese on a Pondp. 187
5. Primus in Carthagop. 194
"Go for the Swine with a Blithe Heart"p. 194
"The Dead Salute the Gods"p. 201
"Jerry Is Counterattacking!"p. 217
6. A Country of Defilesp. 237
Longstopp. 237
"They Shot the Little Son of a Bitch"p. 250
"This Is the Hand of God"p. 256
Part 3
7. Casablancap. 265
The Ice-Cream Frontp. 265
Speedy Valleyp. 270
"The Touch of the World"p. 280
The Sinners' Concoursep. 295
8. A Bits and Pieces Warp. 301
"Goats Set Out to Lure a Tiger"p. 301
"This Can't Happen to Us"p. 312
"The Mortal Dangers That Beset Us"p. 317
"A Good Night for a Mass Murder"p. 327
9. Kasserinep. 339
A Hostile Debouchmentp. 339
None Returnedp. 348
"Sometimes That Is Not Good Enough"p. 353
"This Place Is Too Hot"p. 366
"Order, Counter-order, and Disorder"p. 373
"Lay Roughly on the Tanks"p. 382
Part 4
10. The World We Knew Is a Long Time Deadp. 395
Vigil in Red Oakp. 395
"We Know There'll Be Troubles of Every Sort"p. 398
"One Needs Luck in War"p. 406
"The Devil Is Come Down"p. 416
11. Over the Topp. 431
"Give Them Some Steel!"p. 431
"Search Your Soul"p. 444
Night Closes Downp. 453
"I Had a Plan ... Now I Have None"p. 464
12. The Inner Keepp. 480
Hell's Cornerp. 480
Hammering Home the Corkp. 490
"Count Your Children Now, Adolf!"p. 499
Tunisgradp. 513
Epiloguep. 530
Notesp. 543
Sourcesp. 626
Acknowledgmentsp. 655
Indexp. 660