In his Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, An Army At Dawn, The War in North Africa, 1942-43, Rick Atkinson takes an in-depth look at the fledgling Allied effort to gain a war footing in the attempt to confront the Nazi stronghold in Europe. The narrative opens in November 1942 when the British and Americans endeavor to persuade key players in the Vichy regime to switch loyalties and support the coming Tunisian invasion. As the volume progresses, the author follows the ill-prepared forces who display their inexperience on the battlefield against the seasoned German troops. Eventually, however, the Allied ability to supply munitions, manpower, and the will to fight would prove to be an important turning point in a long war.
An Army At Dawn is the first in The Liberation Trilogy and is a well-written, well-researched, well-detailed look at one of the most important historical events of the twentieth century. Using battlefield maps, journal entries, and war records, Atkinson examines the political and military maneuvers at home and abroad. He explores every major personality who had a significant role in the European theatre of war. Using their own words, or those of their contemporaries, the author skillfully illustrates each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. This makes the narrative entertaining, interesting, intriguing, and informative.
However, I find Atkinson’s dismissive treatment of General George Patton troubling. There is no question that Patton could be abrasive and even arrogant at times. However, the General was a critical player against the Germans in North Africa, which deserves to be highlighted in any fair account of World War II. Apart from this, An Army At Dawn is well worth your time.