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4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 23 September 2013
This would have been a 5 star rating except that there are two bits that I know are wrong. He reports that soon after D Day Spitfires and Hurricanes were based in France. In the summer of '45 I was flying a Hurricane in a training job in Scotland and I know there were no Hurricanes operational in France at that time. The author also relates that during ground attacks pilots flew at 50 feet while firing at ground targets;.personal experience again says he has got it wrong. In January '45 I was posted to 137 Squadron, 124 Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force in Holland to fly Typhoons. I flew ground attacks firing air to ground rockets and cannon and to aim at a ground target required that the aircraft be nose down and aimed at the target. Do that when flying at 50 feet and you hit the ground.
These are two very small points but it means that twice the author has included material without checking it for accuracy and one must have some thought that he may have done this in other parts of the narrative.
These points apart, I think this book is excellently well written and, as one who was there at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
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on 25 June 2013
This is a terrific book. Atkinson has a firm and detailed grasp of all aspects from D-day on through the liberation. He is brilliant on the strengths and weaknesses of the dominant personalities like Eisenhower, Montgomery, Patton and vividly presents other participants like the unforgettable General Ted Roosevelt. He does what contemporary historians now do so well : he covers the big strategies and events and also drills down to the perspective of named individuals. And he writes so well. Its a very easy book to read, almost a page-turner.

One niggle. Little,Brown haven't done so well. The pages of photos started to fall out before I had reached page 100. It is shockingly badly bound, I suspect just glued like a paperback. Poor for a book retailing at £35. The US edition is probably better.
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on 17 July 2013
This definitive history of events in Europe leading up to June 6th 1944 and the subsequent defeat of Nazi Germany reads almost like a novel in its account of this brutal campaign.
The tensions between world leaders, military commanders, the sufferings of ordinary soldiers and civilians are starkly recounted.
From detailed accounts of strategy to the costs in blood and treasure ,this epic history is the finest narration of this bloody campaign brings the horrors of war to grim reality.
American war production and the overwhelming mass of materiel finally ground down the superb soldiering of the Wehrmacht. The liberation of the concentration camps finally showed the world of the truely evil nature of the Nazi regime.
I cannot recommend this majestic book highly enough.
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on 26 December 2013
Despite basic differences in military philosophy between the Anglo American partners,they succeeded despite all obstacles in achieving a total victory against the Axis Powers.
In this the final volume of Rick Atkinson's epic account of the American Army's war in North Africa and Europe, the story is taken from the difficulties on the Normandy beaches through to the River Elbe and Austria. Although this is a familiar history for many readers , in Atkinson's authoritative writing it develops into an heroic account; and its viewpoint ranges from Supreme Commander to the lowliest Private.
This is a well researched history yet written in a pacey form which is always interesting and informative. Though written mainly from the US viewpoint, it still is an even handed account which pays full tribute to the contribution made by the British forces.
Strongly recommended for both the specialist and the general reader.
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on 7 September 2013
This the final part of a trilogy on WW2 by Rick Atkinson is staggering in its impact.
The research is clear, the use of the research brings the very sights and sounds of the war into the reader's mind and heart.
While some of us non-Americans might feel it is a bit biased in favour of American soldiers and Generals, that is understandable, in that Atkinson seeks to write in the first place for American readers. But he does not shy away from pointing up short-comings and more on the part of American heroes.
The book is hard reading because of the horrors of war.
Cannot recommend too highly.
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on 9 July 2013
Typical Rick atkinson. Wide coverage; personal anecdotes; measured and incisive judgement; honest evaluation; interesting photos; clear maps; detailed index; full bibliography. What more could one wish for?
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"'There must be a beginning of any great matter,' (Sir Francis) Drake had written, 'but the continuing unto the end until it is thoroughly finished yields the true glory.'" - from THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT

"... Germans unable to find white flags surrendered by waving chickens." - from THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT

"I cried for the joy of being there and the sadness of my father's death. I cried for all the times I needed a father and never had one. I cried for all the words I wanted to say and wanted to hear but had not. I cried and cried." - from THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT, a daughter's memory of visiting her father's grave in the cemetery above Omaha beach

Having just finished THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT, after having previously read Rick Atkinson's first two books in the Liberation Trilogy (An Army At Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (Liberation Trilogy) and The Day Of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-44 (Liberation Trilogy)) about the Yanks' World War II fight against the Germans from 1942 to 1945, I stand amazed at the relative ease at which the author wrote so many elegant, eloquent, and thoroughly engaging volumes. Now, obviously, I don't mean to say it was an effortless task, but all three lengthy books were published over a relatively short period of time (2002-2013), and the research alone for any one of them might have well taken any other writer decades. Atkinson is amazing.

What makes THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT, as well as the preceding two in the series, enormously readable is Rick's ability to describe the Western Allies' war both at the macro level - multiple armies advancing on a wide front - down to the micro level - an individual participant's involvement. Yet, the trilogy is a masterpiece of comprehensive narrative that doesn't get bogged down in either the wide or narrow view.

As an exceedingly casual student of the Second World War, over the decades I've become acquainted via my reading with the Normandy invasion, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. (I mean, even full-length feature films have been made about them!) Yet, for the first time and because of this volume, I've picked up more than a little knowledge of the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 (Operation Dragoon), as well as the Falaise Pocket, the battles for Aachen and the Hürtgen Forest, the Colmar Pocket, and the encirclement of the Ruhr - none of which have received the same amount of press as the first three mentioned. So, I'm pathetically grateful when any book expands my knowledge base by even so much as a smidgen.

THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT contains an eminently serviceable photo section and a wide selection of above-average battlefield maps. The Notes and Selected Sources sections are positively prodigious.

Finally, THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT provides perhaps the best ever example of concise understatement, i.e. General Eisenhower's famous dispatch to his superiors reporting the victory of his Allied Expeditionary Force over Germany:

"The mission of this Allied force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7, 1945. Eisenhower." It's so perfect it gives me chills.
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on 8 March 2014
RICK Atkinson has done a very good job! He has not been too pro American, he gives Patton as much stick as Monty for example. If I had to pick anything, he tended to overlook British losses prior to America joining the action. But a very moving account.
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on 19 December 2013
I had not read Rick Atkinson before, and went on recommendation, which was a wise decision. I read it on holiday and found it interesting and informative.Some personal stories behind the facts and another book which makes the wise decison to break down a huge story into a smaller, easier read. For students of the last war.
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on 6 June 2014
Guns at last light is the final book in this trilogy on the United States Army in the Second World War.
This covers the D Day landings and on to the German capitulation.
I emphasise that this us about the United States Army so the other combatants suffer in comparison.
However he is far more sympathetic to Montgomery than most American historians and some British writers.
Antony Beevor,who's D Day book is really terrible with sloppy research took the anti Montgomery line - probably to sell more books in The States.
Atkinson makes some points about the Mulberry harbours that I believe are wrong as he dismisses them as being of little use but this is , I think , because the American Mulberry was badly put together by their engineers and took a battering from the sea that broke it up.The British Mulberry lasted about 8 months and was vital.
He us also quite critical of the US Generals, a refreshing change from some military writers.Hodges , Patton and Bradley are criticised for wasting lives for no good reason and there is also blame for the failure of the Market Garden operation apportioned to the Americans.
This is however a very good book and I recommend that you read all three of his trilogy in the correct order.
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