The Guns at Last Light

ISBN: 978-0805062908
Review Date:

Having previously reviewed Rick Atkinson's An Army and Dawn and The Day of Battle, I had looked forward to the third and last volume of his "Liberation" trilogy. This final work, The Guns at Last Light, was written as distinctively as the previous two titles, providing an excellent bird's eye view of the American effort against Germany in western Europe while never forgetting that the war was fought by individuals on the front lines. Although Atkinson did not necessarily bring forth a significant amount of new material, he beautifully weaved together a great narrative suitable for beginners and more knowledgeable enthusiasts alike. The only minor drawback would be that his perspective and the areas the book covered were decidedly American-centric and focused on the European War only, thus the Soviet war effort in Eastern Europe, the US's divided attention with the Pacific War, etc. were only mentioned in passing. His epilogue, which summarized how the war had affected everything from language (the coinage of "genocide" and a new definition of "Holocaust" were two of his examples), to the start of racial integration in the US Army, all the way to the return of the remains of many thousands of fallen US servicemen brought the book to a nice closure.

I had reviewed this title in both printed and audio book formats. The many maps collectively formed my favorite part of the printed version. The photographs were very nice as well, although I felt that many of them had already been published widely, but that was by no means a shortcoming. As for the audio book format, Rick Atkinson read this book himself, which I appreciated very much. As noted before in other reviews, no one would know words on a page as intimately as the one who penned them, and Atkinson's reading really reflected it, taking pauses and stressing words at all the seemingly right places, making my listening very enjoyable.

Atkinson was a great storyteller with An Army and Dawn and The Day of Battle, and this final volume was no exception. His narration was a pleasure both as a reader and a listener, I would think that WW2DB visitors would find his presentation of the American war effort to be a good one as well.

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Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945