An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa (1942-1943) : The Liberation Trilogy

  • by Rick Atkinson
  • Narrated by George Guidall
  • Series: The Liberation Trilogy
  • 26 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, History, 2003
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 learner 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 a great 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.
An Army at Dawn is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for History.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An important chapter in WWII well narrated

What comes to mind is that so many blunders of WWI were repeated in WWII. The African campaigns were no exception. American was ill prepared for war and the British seemed not to have learned much from fighting in WWI. But also, as this book unfolds, we learn that only the Germans had learned their lessons and developed new strategies nd tactics, i.e. the blitzkrieg and mechanized warfare. What this theater did was toughen up the Americans, and the allies, physically and mentally, for the long, grueling battles to come.
The author personalizes the battles with snippets from soldiers' diaries (both sides). It proves welcome respite from recalling all the maneuvers and the places they occurred at.
What I wished the book paid more attention to was the installation of Darlan as head of the French forces. There was a mighty bit of political intrigue going on in France, Britain, and American when dealing with what was thought as the least of an unattractive situation. I wished this aspect was explored more in depth.
What the book posits is that this early campaign, won with great difficulty by the allies and lost after horrific fighting by the axis, showed the way to the ultimate destruction of the axis. It gave the allies confidence, sometimes false, and the axis doubts which they were able to overcome to fight on to great tactical victories but ultimate defeat.
I have always doubted the Montgomery's generalship and this book shows how his weaknesses were manifested in his victories but also how they would appear in later battles (his tendency to "tidy" up his lines before making his next assault while the enemy was right in front of him ready to be exploited) to extend the war, e.g. Market Garden.
I highly recommend this book if you wish to examine WWII in a broad context.
As for the narration: it is nothing short of amazing how Guidall can get into the mind of the author and make the story come alive with an inflection here and there. He is a true master of the art o narration.
Read full review

- W. Max Hollmann

The Africa campaign was Real War!

What did you love best about An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa (1942-1943)?

I loved that, for once, The Africa Campaign was shown for what it was: Intense, gruesome struggles, replete with all the terror and drama that illuminates battles like those on the islands of the Pacific in WWII.

I must deduct a star, because this book requires frequent consulting of maps, and I lost a lot by listening, instead of buying hard copy. (To be fair, even hardcopy books often provide sorry maps, tossed in as an afterthought, without serious effort at illustrating towns or topography described in the text.)

I wish Audible, or the publisher, or the author, or somebody would supply a web site that contains maps that one could follow. What a difference that would make!

Any additional comments?

Rick Atkinson's WWII trilogy has been hailed for the superb way it describes WWII. This praise is deserved. But may I also recommend Michael Shaara's four WWII novels, which I consider as enjoyable and informative as Atkinson's, and less map-dependent? Yes, read Atkinson, but also read Shaara.

Read full review

- Greg

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-16-2013
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio