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An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa 1942-1943

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa 1942-1943

Written by Rick Atkinson

Narrated by Rick Atkinson


An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa 1942-1943

Written by Rick Atkinson

Narrated by Rick Atkinson

ratings:
4.5/5 (26 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Released:
Oct 1, 2002
ISBN:
9780743541671
Format:
Audiobook

Description

In the first volume of a remarkable trilogy, Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Atkinson provides the definitive history of the second world war in North Africa.

The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is an epic story of courage and calamity, of miscalculation and enduring triumph. An Army at Dawn begins on the eve of Operation TORCH, the daring amphibious invasion of Morocco and Algeria. After three days of hard fighting against the French, American, and British troops push deeper into North Africa.

But the confidence gained after several early victories soon wanes; casualties mount rapidly; battle plans prove ineffectual, and hope for a quick and decisive victory evaporates. The Allies discover that they are woefully unprepared to fight and win this war. North Africa becomes a proving ground: it is here that American officers learn how to lead, here that soldiers learn how to hate, here that an entire army learns what it will take to vanquish a formidable enemy.

Many great battle captains emerged in North Africa, including Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and Montgomery. Atkinson brings these commanders vividly to life. He takes us to the front lines of every major battle—from Oran to Kasserine to Tunis. In North Africa, the Allied coalition came into its own, the enemy forever lost the initiative, and the United States—for the first time—began to act like a great power.

Atkinson casts a clear eye on the dark tragedies that haunt every war. The first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn is history of the highest order—brilliantly researched, rich with new material and surprising insights, the deeply human story of a monumental battle for the future of civilization.

Released:
Oct 1, 2002
ISBN:
9780743541671
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Atkinson's best-selling books include In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat and An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942–1943.

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4.5
26 ratings / 29 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Like many, I knew little about America's involvement in North Africa, and thought it was just a series of preliminary skirmishes. Now I see how it was the necessary prologue for what was to come in Europe, which has always received the biggest focus in my family, since my father as a combat infantryman was shot by a German and my mother grew up in occupied Denmark. This is a (perhaps overly) comprehensive account employing an interesting technique of using detailed research to chronicle how each battle unfolded. It seems the death of every individual soldier is accounted for, and that's what got tedious. If you lost a relative to Rommel in Libya, you could probably pinpoint the relevant pages and battles in this book. I learned much from this book and it rounded out my military history, plugging gaps in my knowledge. For example, I hadn't realized some of our country's first WWII casualties were a result of fighting against...the French! The book also sure provided a sickening insight into the arrogant personalities of the military bigshots who presided over their domains. Particularly noteworthy was the blend of detail that applied to planning (or the lack thereof) at the upper levels of leadership and the in-the-foxhole, minute-by-minute hopeless consequences in battle for the troops on the ground. I will probably skip the second in the trilogy and get right to the Battle of the Bulge in Volume III.
  • (4/5)
    This book is a great read on the first US involvement in WW2 for any history or military buff. It's also an excellent introduction to WW2 for anyone interested in first-class writing on the subject. This is history the way I want to read it, the big picture but with enough detail and research to keep you interested.
  • (4/5)
    A fresh, well written account of the American war in n africa. The author does a good job of illuminating the unreadiness of the US military, from the top down. Sadly, this cost lives. He makes a compelling argument that the lives lost here were less devestating than they would have been had the immediate cross channel attack been attempted. All in all, this is not "just another we won the war" book, but a fresh look at a critically important campaign. Well written and flows quite well.
  • (2/5)
    This book emphasizes people in it's discussion of the first allied (US/UK/France?) invasion of WWII. There were several leadership and tactical lessons learned in the invasion of North Africa and from the German/Italian side it's defense. I slogged through it; the book was a difficult listen without a map of North Africa. For that reason, I don't believe that I'll follow through with the second and third volumes of this WWII trilogy.
  • (3/5)
    A lively account of the actions from November 1942 to May of 1943, as the American Army of WWII has its baptism of fire. I found it to be fast paced and fair. Perhaps weak on analysis of the German Army...
  • (3/5)
    Atkinson is considered the foremost military historical writer of our time. I read his book on the 101 Airborne in Iraq, where Gen. David Petraeus first became a star.

    This book is a very detailed look at how war is hell. How all operations are disorganized chaos. There are horrors of war and then there are the horrors of day-to-day survival in that war. Survivors are just lucky.

    Was the North Africa campaign necessary? It trained a large number of Allied soldiers, prepared them for the invasion of Europe. But, wouldn't it have just been better to invade Europe and avoid the circuitous route taken by invading Africa and then Sicily? Probably.

    This book is a great historical documentary. No one tells the soldiers' stories like Atkinson.
    I give it 3.5 stars of 5.
  • (5/5)
    An excellent portrayal of the American expeditionary Army in North Africa in WW II. I had seen the movie Patton many years ago. In that Patton talks about how the Germans whipped the American forces at the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Nonetheless, it was fascinating to discover how inept the USA was at the beginning of the War. Thank God we did not invade France in 1943. We just weren't ready. As the author mentioned at the start of the War we only had six tanks and our Army was ranked 12th in the World behind Romania.
  • (4/5)
    It was moderately interesting. I read it mainly because I knew little about the war in North Africa. The author told the history in an engaging manner which brought out the personalities involved. Thankfully, he concentrated more on the people and the problems in turning a peacetime US into a war machine than the details of each and every battle.
  • (4/5)
    Well written and I appreciated the material that was new to me
  • (5/5)
    This is without a doubt the best book on WWII that I have ever read. Atkinson's writing is vivid and he uses only the details you need to have to understand what is happening. He pulls no punches he shows are great side and our bad side, it is the fact that he doesn't, whitewash our mistakes or hide the fact that we were not the best combat force when we started. If you read about WWII then you must read this book, you will find it very engrossing and easy to read and follow.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent book and author, could be compared to Antony Beevor and thats not a bad thing. Excellent combination of strategic and men on the ground accounts. Interesting story of how the US armed forces were blooded and had to learn the art of war so to speak and launched the ascension of the US as a superpower.
  • (5/5)
    Not having known much about the Second World War in Africa, I found this fascinating. Atkinson pulls no punches about the foibles of various commanders and the horror of war. Very readable history with very helpful maps.
  • (4/5)
    Atkinson is a beautiful writer, though I was left with questions as to how exactly he knew what the dawn of the day of a WWII battle looked and smelled like?was he prettying up descriptions provided by actual attendees, or inferring from some other source? He spends a lot of time on the physical miseries of war for ordinary soldiers, and emphasizes just how dumb a lot of battles were in purely tactical terms. In North Africa, the Americans started to learn how to fight, but not without lots of mistakes and casualties.
  • (4/5)
    North Africa, 1942-1943Reading this one, it amazes me that the Allies won! They were such a total mess at the beginning. Most of it was the Americans, at least at the beginning. They had no idea how to fight a mobile war. They barely got in to World War I and then everyone went home and just kind of forgot about fighting. They didn't update their weapons, their tactics, their training, their leadership, their surveillance, nothing. Meanwhile, the Germans were the best army in the world.By the end of the book, and the end of this campaign, the Americans had learned how to fight a modern war, how to train, how to coordinate between artillery and tanks and infantry, and how to hate. The author makes a big point of that. But the Americans and the British were still wary of each other and the generals were still much too worried about their own glory than about winning the whole war.I'm glad I read this one - there's LOTS in here. I really didn't know anything about the war in North Africa. I would have liked an index of Who's Who as that got a little confusing at times. But I liked all the maps - that really helped. 4 stars.
  • (5/5)
    First of the liberation trilogy this book documents the war in North Africa. Five stars
  • (5/5)
    6 stars out of 5! Atkinson has done an excellent job of making the history of the North African campaign understandable to the average reader. He has a knack for using broad details instead of minutiae to avoid losing his reader, yet supplying interesting details to keep the narrative from being dry. The coming of age of the US Army is handled exceptionally well. My only regret is that I took so long to get around to reading this volume. An Army at Dawn is a must for any WWII scholar.
  • (5/5)
    Atkinson sets you up with how badly planned the American invasion of North Africa was. He also tells of the loss of life by poorly trained officers who made bad decisions. I really liked the details about the battles and the ultimate retreat of the Germans from the continent.
  • (5/5)
    This is probably the finest history of a military campaign I have ever read This was not, of course, the Allies' finest hour but the demonstration of the creation of a modern army out of very little was stunning.
  • (5/5)
    I read this book while traveling through Scotland with Wendy.
  • (4/5)
    An alternative title for this book is Jersey Shore - North Africa. Atkinson tells the story of the American landing in North Africa in a highly engaging and entertaining way. Latecomers to the war, the Americans arrived in North Africa unprepared with inflated egos, Their ineptness quickly garnered them the label "our Italians". Burying their opponents by their mass of resources was the secret to their success in North Africa. How could the US generals, in 1942, still be unaware of the need for air superiority, the coordination of infantry and armor and the importance of logistics? The performance of the US generals reminds me of French generalship in 1940. The price of their incompetence is paid in blood by the GIs - and the British.Rick Atkinson excels in recounting the trials of the common soldiers and their commanders. He is guilty in hiding the weakness of their opposition (both French, Italian and German). Only when the French have to fight the Germans, does he mention that their equipment is severely outdated. The book is also weak in presenting an overview of the forces present in theater. For the Germans and Italians, not even an OOB is given. The technical limitations of allied armor so well highlighted in Robert Kershaw's Tanks might have opened a few readers' eyes. For these reasons, it falls more into Ambrose niche of books. Entertaining accounts for the general reader but insufficient for deeper analysis.
  • (5/5)
    This book was awesome! I've never really paid much attention to military history until I read Keegan's Second World War, and while at the bookstore looking for his book on the WWI, I spotted this. The African campaign was always something that intrigued me, as I knew absolutely nothing about it. The early blunders of our military seemed to be absent from anything i was taught in school about the war, as were the tensions between the allied armies. This book strips the war of it's glamour and legend and brings it back to reality.
  • (4/5)
    What I think he misses in an otherwise very good book, is the way in which the N. African campaign (and German military involvement in Southern Europe) weakened German operations in Russia. Hitler certainly considered the Mediterranean operations his biggest mistake and in Tunisia alone the Germans lost and surrendered 250.000 men along with much equipment.While he doesn't consider the strategic success he does show how American supply overwhelmed the Germans despite inexperienced American military fumbling. Patton is shown in his true colours and the book confirms Alanbrooke's war diaries, "I did not form any high opinion of him, nor had I any reason to alter this view at a later date. A dashing, courageous, wild and unbalanced leader, good for operations requiring thrust and push but at a loss in any operation requiring skill and judgment."In general, "An Army at Dawn" strikes a nice balance between the leaders and foot soldiers view of the war.
  • (4/5)
    Very well written and researched. It's main theme was the American Army's maturity during the Algerian and Tunisian campaigns. Although it was beyond the scope of the book, I would have liked to have seen a little background on the entire North African campaign.Also, the similes and metaphors were a tad heavy. Battle participants used them, but the author was also very, very liberal with them as well. They flowed like tracers across the desert, like dust storm of Panzers, like the thunder of a bank of 88s, like the rosy fingers of dawn, like...You get the point.
  • (5/5)
    Incredible. War narrative that reads like a historical novel. Atkinson delivers detailed and well-researched information on this, a too-often overlooked period of the Second World War, through the eyes and experiences of those who fought the campaigns. Atkinson transitions seamlessly from the thirty-thousand foot view of Roosevelt and Churchill through the ten-thousand foot view of Eisenhower, Montgomery, and Rommel, down to the dogface grunt in the foxhole and back again, weaving a deep, rich, and engaging story that could have been yet another dry academic historical tome if written by a lesser author.I highly recommend this book as all of the things I like. I recommend it for the quality of the writing, for the quality of the content, for feel of the book in the hands. Even the typeface and layout lends itself to extended periods of reading without fatigue. I first heard of this book several years ago, but put it off thinking that at its size I would do better to read it when I have time to dedicate to an effort. . . what a mistake that was! Don't wait. . . this book is no effort at all. The effort after I started this book was to avoid neglecting my schoolwork and family.
  • (5/5)
    An outstanding history of WWII during 1942 and 43 in North Africa, An Army At Dawn offers a multitude of views centered on US military experiences during Operation Torch. I can't add much more than other reviewers here. Lots of insights into the main generals, such as Eisenhower, Patton, Anderson, Montgomery, and many others, as well as views from the foxholes and gun sights at each key battlefield. 4 1/2 stars, can't wait to read the second in this series (Liberation Trilogy).
  • (5/5)
    This is an excellent overview of the US Army's role just prior to and through the invasion of North Africa. It includes the training and logistical problems of a major amphibious landing, the political issues, and the struggles of an army with very little experience. A very enlightening and thorough history. This book is focused on the US Army, not air or sea power or even the British battles.
  • (5/5)
    WOW, this is a great book. Atkinson is becoming my next favorite WWII historian, after Ambrose. This is a great book, supposedly part of a triology, about the American entry into the North African campaign. Great writing. If you had to read one book on Operation Torch, this is it. Looking for coming books in the "Liberation Trilogy", but am having a hard time finding out release dates. Atkinson is one of those authors I look for now, whenever I go to Borders.
  • (5/5)
    If you're looking for a book on the allied invasion of North Africa this is now the standard study. This is not to mention that Atkinson is rapidly becoming one of our best popular historians.
  • (5/5)
    Very good, can't wait for the next two.