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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

I Can See Why it Was Awarded a Pulitzer Prize!

An Army at Dawn, The war in North Africa 1942-1943, by Richard Atkinson tells about the United States first involvement in World War II under code name, Operation Torch . It deals with the planning, shipping of troops to Africa, fighting and many more aspects of this hi...
An Army at Dawn, The war in North Africa 1942-1943, by Richard Atkinson tells about the United States first involvement in World War II under code name, Operation Torch . It deals with the planning, shipping of troops to Africa, fighting and many more aspects of this historical moment of the Second World War. It is a prized read, hence it won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. This book goes into many details and covers all aspects of the campaign from General Eisenhower to the lowest private. This campaign was an incredible feat and little is known about it to the average American.
November 1942, the United States ships thousands of troops and supplies to the shores of Morocco and Algeria, under Task force 34. The objective was to fight the French and later the Germans in North Africa. The French were fighting under the puppet Vichy government that was loyal to Hitler because he threatened to take over the rest of France if they did not comply. US troops met some resistance and had its share of mishaps, but beat the French quite easily. Through diplomatic channels and negotiations the French quickly switched to becoming our allies. But, this was only a taste of what was to come because the Allies would soon face a well seasoned and trained Axis Afrika Korps under Field Marshal Rommel. Having been badly beaten by Montgomery's British Eighth Army a few months earlier in El Alamein, they were on the move westward to face the Allies.
Early attempts to reach Tunis by the Allies met with little success. Part of the problem was that the Allied Command was disorganized, poorly coordinated and split by rivalry and national chauvinism. Also, American troops were very green, were under poor field leadership, and critical supplies needed were not being delivered. Hence the Axis make gains in Northern Tunisia at Longstop Hill and at Medjez-El-Bab. With the infamous meeting of Churchill and Roosevelt in January of 1943 in Casablanca, pressure was mounting to finish off the Germans so that a new offensive could take place in the spring and early summer to land troops in Sicily under code name, Operation Husky. But it would not be quite that easy.
A bits and pieces war continued in Tunisia for the next two months. Heavy fighting continued at Faid Pass and the Axis made their greatest last attempt to stop the allies at Kasserine. Under operation, Spring Breeze, the Germans were planning, "to go all out for the total destruction of the Americans", General Kesselring declared. They pushed the Allies further back with the aid of their superior Tiger tanks against the weaker Shermans. It seemed like it would be no match. But as they neared the border of Algeria, they would go no further than Thala. Rommel realized that his Afrika Korps, use to freewheeling combat in the open desert had much to learn about this new type of terrain of vulnerable valleys in hill country. Also his supply lines were over extended and they were low on ammunition and fuel. This would turn out to be the high point for the Allies in Northwest Africa. The tide had swung. Torch saved the Allies in the war. It gave the United States a jumping off point to invade Italy, it diverted German air power to that region from others, and most importantly, it deferred a cross channel invasion from England, that would have been a disaster if carried out too early. The taste of war had come to an inexperienced American force that would get much better in the years ahead.
Robert Glasker

posted by Azpooldude on January 3, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

After reading An Army At Dawn I am sure that when the history of

After reading An Army At Dawn I am sure that when the history of our invasion of Iraq is rewritten Atkinsonn will do it. The text has gross technical errors, is full of the authors self aggrandizing opinions that have no factual bearing on events depicted. There are a ...
After reading An Army At Dawn I am sure that when the history of our invasion of Iraq is rewritten Atkinsonn will do it. The text has gross technical errors, is full of the authors self aggrandizing opinions that have no factual bearing on events depicted. There are a great many references shown but no citations in the text to verify then accuracy of questionable statements. Given the glaring discrepancies in the text on wonders if the references were used for anything other than filling pages. I have read a great many book over sixty plus years and have never read any book that I was moved to be as critical of and disappointed in, it begs the question, does no one do any fact checking or even a cursory review?

posted by GANTunison on June 9, 2013

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Can See Why it Was Awarded a Pulitzer Prize!

    An Army at Dawn, The war in North Africa 1942-1943, by Richard Atkinson tells about the United States first involvement in World War II under code name, Operation Torch . It deals with the planning, shipping of troops to Africa, fighting and many more aspects of this historical moment of the Second World War. It is a prized read, hence it won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. This book goes into many details and covers all aspects of the campaign from General Eisenhower to the lowest private. This campaign was an incredible feat and little is known about it to the average American.
    November 1942, the United States ships thousands of troops and supplies to the shores of Morocco and Algeria, under Task force 34. The objective was to fight the French and later the Germans in North Africa. The French were fighting under the puppet Vichy government that was loyal to Hitler because he threatened to take over the rest of France if they did not comply. US troops met some resistance and had its share of mishaps, but beat the French quite easily. Through diplomatic channels and negotiations the French quickly switched to becoming our allies. But, this was only a taste of what was to come because the Allies would soon face a well seasoned and trained Axis Afrika Korps under Field Marshal Rommel. Having been badly beaten by Montgomery's British Eighth Army a few months earlier in El Alamein, they were on the move westward to face the Allies.
    Early attempts to reach Tunis by the Allies met with little success. Part of the problem was that the Allied Command was disorganized, poorly coordinated and split by rivalry and national chauvinism. Also, American troops were very green, were under poor field leadership, and critical supplies needed were not being delivered. Hence the Axis make gains in Northern Tunisia at Longstop Hill and at Medjez-El-Bab. With the infamous meeting of Churchill and Roosevelt in January of 1943 in Casablanca, pressure was mounting to finish off the Germans so that a new offensive could take place in the spring and early summer to land troops in Sicily under code name, Operation Husky. But it would not be quite that easy.
    A bits and pieces war continued in Tunisia for the next two months. Heavy fighting continued at Faid Pass and the Axis made their greatest last attempt to stop the allies at Kasserine. Under operation, Spring Breeze, the Germans were planning, "to go all out for the total destruction of the Americans", General Kesselring declared. They pushed the Allies further back with the aid of their superior Tiger tanks against the weaker Shermans. It seemed like it would be no match. But as they neared the border of Algeria, they would go no further than Thala. Rommel realized that his Afrika Korps, use to freewheeling combat in the open desert had much to learn about this new type of terrain of vulnerable valleys in hill country. Also his supply lines were over extended and they were low on ammunition and fuel. This would turn out to be the high point for the Allies in Northwest Africa. The tide had swung. Torch saved the Allies in the war. It gave the United States a jumping off point to invade Italy, it diverted German air power to that region from others, and most importantly, it deferred a cross channel invasion from England, that would have been a disaster if carried out too early. The taste of war had come to an inexperienced American force that would get much better in the years ahead.
    Robert Glasker

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2003

    The best kind of popular history

    Filled with elegant writing, I found myself rereading and savoring many passages of this rich, densely detailed, and tragic story. I could read only a few pages at a time before needing time to think about it. History classes I have taken and those I have taught glossed over the North Africa campaign as merely a prelude to the main event in Europe. Now I know better.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2003

    War In The Desert

    An Army at Dawn is an extraordinary book. It reminds us that the first Army boot that hit the beach was in North Africa, not Normandy.The book also makes it quite clear that a fighting machine like the U.S. Army just doesn't automatically happen. It takes the courage to learn from mistakes and to be succesful, one must bring maximum force to bear in fighting the enemy. The powerful narrative smoothly moves from the generals to the privates in the foxholes. The research is quite impressive. The book is superbly written. I can't wait for the next volume.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2013

    I'm almost done with this volume. I really enjoyed it. Had finis

    I'm almost done with this volume. I really enjoyed it. Had finished a Biography of Hitler recently (900+pages) and while it was good it was very dry. This book however, was thoroughly entertaining (as much as possible considering the subject matter). Would definitely recommend it to WWII devotees.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2002

    Super read...

    I'm only about half way thru this book but it's very, very good at illuminating a theatre in the war that never seems to get the attention that surrounds D-Day and the Northern Europe actions. Can't wait to finish the book but then wonder how long I'll have to wait on volume 2? Recommended

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2002

    An excellent, highly readable, well-documented history

    An Army At Dawn is the first full-scale study of the American Army in the North African Campaign of World War II to appear in many years. If less in-depth than the official histories in the Green Book series, it is a far easier read. Atkinson has a gift for shifting from the high command to the impact of war upon the lonely frontline rifleman. He is, moreover, an excellent stylist and his writing is superb. Unlike the increasingly common practice in more popular histories of ignoring notes and sources, both are included. The maps are also surprisingly good, if as always too few in number. Overall this is an excellent book and the only complaint is that the publication schedule for the next two volumes in the Liberation Trilogy means that the wait will be too long!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    One of my favorite books about the men and events of World War I

    One of my favorite books about the men and events of World War II. Expertly researched it has a great balance in present the large scale geo-political aspects of the war as well and some of the personal effets of the war. Thanks Rick, looking forward to finishing the series with the thrid books next year.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2004

    Masterful

    Never before has a book sucked me in before I even finished reading the prologue! Rick Atkinson has a writing style reminiscent of other journalists/authors such as Cornelius Ryan and Ernie Pyle. This book appeals to the historians looking to broaden the knowledge of the subject, to those just beginning to take interest in military conflict. I can wait for the release of the next book in the Liberation Trilogy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2014

    If you read only one recap of WWII read this.

    Rick Atkinson does the best job of recapping what went on for the Americans in WWII. He does it like a news reporter. This what was going on. This is what happened. This is the result. If you know nothing about WWII this will get you started. If you've read a lot this will summarize it for. The right mix of facts, personal incidents and perspective. He does not judge the generals, just tells you what was going on.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2014

    Midnight Crystal and Metal Moon

    Hmm...We should start this over together. Are you locked out of Tigerclaw? I am. You should advertise therem

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    Silver Moon

    "Thank you."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2014

    Bloodwolf

    Nuzzels back

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014

    Luna

    "Okay." She said and sat down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014

    Sylver

    She nodded and padded off to pst her bio<p>Might be gone for a while, Etherals being stupid.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2014

    Excellent telling of a terrible time.

    Wonderful book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    Ross

    Tackles you from behind onto the bed* yes i win this round!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    Bryan

    I wont lol

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2013

    Andrew

    Im back

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    Tom to andrew

    Are you at master cheif also?) Yawns and looks around

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  • Posted December 12, 2013

    Excellent history that tells you not only the big picture but is

    Excellent history that tells you not only the big picture but is filled with the small details such as thoughts and experiences of the individual fighting man. An unglamerous look at the stupidity of war.

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