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The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 [Anglais] [Broché]

Rick Atkinson

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13 mai 2014
The eagerly awaited final volume in Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Atkinson's New York Times bestselling Liberation Trilogy.

It is the twentieth century’s unrivaled epic: at a staggering price, the United States and its allies liberated Europe and vanquished Hitler. In the first two volumes of his bestselling Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson recounted the history of how the American-led coalition fought its way from North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now he tells the most ?dramatic story of all—the titanic battle in Western Europe.

D-Day marked the commencement of the war’s final campaign, and Atkinson’s astonishingly fresh account of that enormous gamble sets the pace for the masterly narrative that follows. The brutal fight in Normandy, the liberation of Paris, the disaster that was Market Garden, the horrific Battle of the Bulge, and finally the thrust to the heart of the Third Reich—all these historic moments come utterly alive. Atkinson tells the tale from the perspective of participants at all levels, from presidents and prime?ministers to ambitious generals, from war-weary lieutenants to terrified teenage riflemen. When Germany at last surrenders, we understand anew both the devastating cost of this global conflagration and the awe-inspiring effort that led to Germany’s?surrender.

With the stirring final volume of this monumental trilogy, Rick Atkinson’s remarkable accomplishment is manifest. He has produced the definitive chronicle of the war that restored freedom to the West. His lively, occasionally lyric prose brings the vast theater of battle, from the beaches of Normandy deep into Germany, brilliantly alive. It is hard to imagine a better history of the western front’s final phase.
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .

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Rick Atkinson was a staff writer and senior editor at The Washington Post for more than twenty years. He is the bestselling author of An Army at Dawn, The Long Gray Line, In the Company of Soldiers, and Crusade. His many awards include Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and history. He lives in Washington, D.C. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .

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Amazon.com: 4.7 étoiles sur 5  1.164 commentaires
323 internautes sur 340 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The literary equivalent of the first 15 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan." 27 mars 2013
Par Nathan Webster - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I'm using a D-Day comparison to start this review, but top to bottom, this volume is far more than that. By the end of its prologue, the narrative was already more intense than many comprehensive histories of World War II - and by the time the readers arrives at the ghastly Hurtgen Forest, D-Day is a distant memory.

With so many books and research available about WWII, I don't know that I'd call any one volume (or three in this trilogy's case) truly 'definitive.' However, author Rick Atkinson has provided what the best history does, and that's the motivation to learn even more. As I read this volume, I found myself drawn to do further research into things I'd never heard of - Operation Dragoon in southern France for example - or more details about the landing craft used on D-Day, or more about the mistakes made during the campaign around Antwerp.

This is hardly because Atkinson left out information - his amazingly seamless narrative weaves personal stories of soldiers both high ranking and low, with researched documentation from many sources. Unlike historical accounts that keep the reader "above" the action, he very deftly immerses the reader in the tactical battles as easily as the overall strategy. It's never a 'dry' faceless history - the battered humans on the ground, whether it's Eisenhower or a junior private, are almost always the focus. Occasionally, he will offer a quote from a deceased soldier's letter to give a heartbreaking end to a chapter, reminding the reader of the human cost.

And what a cost. We as a country have grown so spoiled over the last 10 years of war, and expectations of easy victories, that WWII becomes difficult to relate to - friendly fire on D-Day killed hundreds of soldiers. Mistakes made by various generals - especially at Operation Market Garden, and the early days of the Battle of the Bulge - no doubt prolonged the war or put soldiers in impossible positions, costing thousands more.

It's easy to criticize these decisions with hindsight - but Atkinson never criticizes; instead, he lets the documents and testimony do the work, as it should be. It made me appreciate how difficult and frankly, impossible, this war was to manage - and what an beyond amazing job generals like Eisenhower and Montgomery did (and unfortunately, Atkinson details the German generals occasional moments of brilliance - and it's awful to think how hard the Germans fought for such a wretched, awful cause, especially when the war was all but lost, and so many people still had to die).

He provided plenty of information that was fairly new to me, even though other works have covered it. For example, the V-1 and V-2 raids over England I knew about in concept - but the accounts he's provided bring it home in much more detail. I had not known what a morale-killer they were to England at the time. That's just one example of many where Atkinson's research and organization and story-telling skills have told so many 'small' stories within this big one.

The book's back cover describes WWII as the epic struggle of the 20th century, and that's certainly true. To give justice to those soldiers needed an epic story to be told, and Atkinson has done the job. It's as five-star as a book can be.

FURTHER READING: After finishing this book, readers could turn to Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, which takes the reader into Europe's next few years.

Also, I recently read The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau, which is a battalion commander's story within this larger struggle, and of course Eisenhower in War and Peace would be a good additional resource. The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today would complement a lot of Atkinson's discussion about the Montgomery-Eisenhower relationship. Also, Ricks deals with the battlefield relief of generals, and it's interesting to note how many commanders Atkinson mentions are 'fired' for their various failures.
200 internautes sur 209 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I Have No Other Choice Than To Join the Five Star Review Bandwagon 12 avril 2013
Par Severian - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Yes, the third volume of the Liberation Trilogy really is _that_ good. The Guns At Last Light (hereafter GALL) is a fitting conclusion to Atkinson's excellent series, and is a triumph despite the very tough competition. Volumes One and Two were confronting a (relative) dearth of recent popular works on the African and Mediterranean campaigns, but the main Western Front narrative of combat in France and Germany has been covered in history literature by numerous recent and widely read works by such credible historians as John Keegan, Carlo D'Este, Max Hastings, and Antony Beevor along with second tier "rah rah" populists like Stephen Ambrose and older works that still stand up like those by Cornelius Ryan. Could Atkinson add anything new to such well-trodden ground?

He can and does. Here are just a few reasons why Atkinson is at the top of his field:

1) Journalistic integrity. Atkinson is scrupulously fair in covering the controversial personalities and campaign controversies of the Western Front. He presents evidence pro and con, gives impressions of contemporaries that show all valid opinions, and judiciously weighs in with his own tempered assessment. Hastings in comparison is much more opinionated and lets his strong biases show clearly in discussions of events and persons. Hastings can be fun to read because of his vehemence and wit, and I happen to agree with most of his assessments, but at the same time I wouldn't assign his books for a college course or recommend them to a friend who knew nothing about the subject. Atkinson builds his assessments carefully and prudently, and this allows a newcomer or objective reader to reach their own conclusions as to whether they agree or disagree with the author. Too much military history is written with strong authorial opinions that then influence what facts and primary source evidence is presented. Atkinson in comparison is truly "fair and balanced", and his books show his experience as a journalist. This is not to say he lacks opinions or passion; rather, he presents evidence to show why he feels and believes as he does, but he also shows the other side of the coin.

2) Clarity in campaign and battle narratives. I confess that I can never fully visualize what is happening in Antony Beevor's books. His maps are usually poorly done, and his narratives of a given battle or campaign always leave me either just moving on or relying on other explanations I've read in other books. In comparison, Atkinson's works always present battles and operations clearly, coherently, and with useful maps. The publisher has not skimped on maps here, and Atkinson writes well when discussing the how and why of complex maneuvers. He moves between the sides and up and down the ranks from guy in the trench to Eisenhower and Rommel with wisdom and clarity, and I doubt any reader will be left confused about a given battle.

3) New detail. Amazingly enough, even when discussing immensely familiar subjects like Overlord, Atkinson finds new things to say, to the extent that I found at least one new interesting fact per page (usually more) in the D-Day section of the book. The end notes are comprehensive and all facts are well-documented, so this book can be a sort of gateway for those wanting to learn more about familiar topics by referrals to new sources.

4) Quality of Writing. Atkinson and Hastings are my two favorite writers from the list of works I mention above, and Atkinson, though less witty and cynical than Hastings, strikes a magisterial tone in his writing that is hard to achieve. He can mention old Roman and Napoleonic campaigns when discussing the Ardennes and not sound silly, and he can achieve an elegiac and / or patriotic tone without schmaltz (i.e. he is far above Stephen Ambrose!). It is a pleasure to read expository prose that is also literary in quality, and I think this is one of Atkinson's great strengths.

Hopefully, these four points of merit cited will convince any skeptic that this volume (and series) deserves five stars. Are there any weaknesses? Some, but hardly worth mentioning. First, because this series focuses on the American experience in the various campaigns, Brits and British Army fans may feel their favorite army gets short shrift. Actually, the coverage of British operations is featured more prominently in GALL than in the other volumes, so the British Army sort of fades in and out of sight frequently. Hastings and Beevor both cover the UK/Commonwealth operations in more detail, and Hastings (in "Armageddon") also covers the Russian advance into Germany, a comparison that is useful and provoative. (Atkinson has virtually nothing at all to say about the USSR war, which is perfectly acceptable given his intent.) Non-American newcomers to WW2 history will probably want a somewhat more coherent account of the UK's experiences and contributions, but there are plenty of other resources they can peruse. (Hastings' "Inferno" is my favorite big picture / UK partial account.)

Other than this issue (not really a fault I would say) Atkinson spendt a bit too much time (IMO)with WW2 American journalists in the field, but many will find this material enjoyable, and Atkinson obviously feels some kinship with these men who covered the same subject he is now retelling. Obviously, the need to tell the entire history of the War in the West in one volume means some subjects will be short-changed, so if you want more detail on D-Day, read Beevor or Hastings' "Overlord", if you want more detail on Market Garden, read Ryan's "Bridge Too Far", etc. I feel the events are given their proper weight in the scope of narrative coverage, so this also is not really an objective failure.

All in all, the Liberation trilogy is an excellent series, and is the place to begin if you are new to the subject; it is also a great place to learn a few new things if you are already a Western Front enthusiast. Atkinson;s series has all the virtues of good history and good books in general: finely written, eloquent, probing, and comprehensive. This series is the new gold standard for the history of the American Western Front experience in WW2.
100 internautes sur 106 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A fitting end to a great trilogy 11 avril 2013
Par Robert Busko - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Rick Atkinson in The Guns at Last Light has written a masterful account of the war in Europe from the landings at Normandy to the surrender of the German Army. This final installment of the Liberation Trilogy is perhaps the best of the three books (my opinion only).

While The Guns at Last Light is factually correct, Atkinson provides so much more to this history. He manages to paint commanders on both sides in a revealing light adding so much more to his work. He also intelligently deals with mistakes by allied commanders that cost hundreds and even thousands of deaths and amplified the successes of the German commanders who were every bit as good and bad as ours.

Chapter 9, The Bulge, serves as an example. Atkinson provides so much detail in his material that it is mind blowing. The famous response my McAuliffe, commander of the forces at Bastogne is a case in point. Of course, the Germans wanted Bastogne because it was a major crossroads in the area. The Germans demanded that the American's surrender. McAuliffe's reply of "Nuts" while clear to us was confusing to the Germans. The German read the reply and asked if the answer was "negative or affirmative?"

"The reply is decidedly not affirmative," the American said. "If you don't understand what "nuts" means, in plain English it is the same as `go to hell. We will kill every godd..m German that tries to break into this city."

"We will kill many Americans. This is War."

While many Americans are familiar with the "nuts" response, most, at least for me, have never heard the rest of the tale.

The book is populated with intelligent (for a change) maps that actually communicate information. Also, always a major plus for me, are the wonderful and extensive notes at the end of the book. These notes are great extensions of the information in the book proper.

For me personally, some of the most profound material is located in the Epilogue. This is not to take anything away from the first 628 pages. In analyzing the impact of the war, Atkinson reviews the losses of the various combatant armies. Casualty lists of 194,000 killed and wounded among the British, Canadian, Polish and ancillary forces is hard to deal with. Considering that fully one third of all German boys born between 1915 and 1924 were gone is staggering. As Americans in 2013, we just can't conceive of such profound losses. It is important that authors such as Rick Atkinson remind us of the cost of the victory. This is also mind blowing when you consider that both the British and Canadians were fighting in the Pacific as well.

The Guns at Last Light, the final installment of the Liberation Trilogy is a fitting end to such a landmark series of books.

I highly recommend.

Semper Fi and bless us all.
22 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Pulitzer Worthy 6 mai 2013
Par Burgmicester - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This is the last of the trilogy by Rick Atkinson on the American Armed Forces involved in the European Front during WWII. It started with An Army At Dawn (the battles of Africa) and then The Day of Battle (the battles of Italy) and now it is finished with the landings at Normandy and the continuation to the conclusion of WWII. There is no reason to read them in order unless you need the chronology. Atkinson doesn't have much overlap in the series and each book is unto itself a masterpiece.

The Prologue to this book is the longest that I have ever read (41 pages), but it just might be the best 41 pages that I have ever read on the preparation to Operation Overlord. Atkinson is meticulous in his historical rendering and gives anecdote after anecdote. He merges seamlessly details and personal stories throughout this book. While I'm the not most knowledgeable about the European Theater, this book covers just about everything and with details that fully engage so that you cannot put it down. It seems that Atkinson is in the room with Eisenhower and his staff. He uses primary sources and brings the reader easily through the pages. Even knowing the ending does little to keep you from the edge of your seat. There are so many little battles that are explained with the corresponding "look back" at the mistakes and laying out the battlefield, that it is a must to refer to the many maps provided. Every move is choreographed by Atkinson.

Details on the invasion were vivid and gut wrenching. Decisions made and not made are explored. Fingers are not pointed, except in valid cases, but often the reader can make up their own mind as to the generalship as the facts are presented. The fog of war is realistically portrayed and sometimes you begin to wonder how anyone could make decisions in some of these circumstances.
There are so many stories about individual companies and how they interacted that I was mesmerized page after page. It is one of the best histories that I have ever read. This is a book about battles and the overall war strategies and how they were executed. There isn't anything about the treaty and not much in the way of politics except how they affected the war effort. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
35 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 a masterful conclusion to the Liberation Trilogy 2 avril 2013
Par John E. Drury - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This is a sprawling, exquisitely written overview of the Allies from D Day (June 1944) to the German capitulation (May 1945). Atkinson has written two earlier books on the European campaign; the war in North Africa and the war in Italy.

Stunningly descriptive, powerful in its use of detailed statistics conveying the energy of all aspects of the war in Europe (especially in his captivating "Prologue" on the D Day build up), there is originality, deep thought and historical meaning here. Atkinson moves effortlessly from the painful to the poignant to the poetic; never content with his own words, he draws on Liebling, Hemingway and Alan Morehead, the poet, Randall Jarrell, Kurt Vonnegut (in Dresden) and the letters home from the dead soldier.

Carefully non judgmental, he adroitly juxtaposes paragraphs and incidents contrasting the luxuries of the American and British military leadership (Eisenhower, Churchill, Montgomery, Bradley, John C.H. Lee) with the horrific dangerous existence of the doughboy. His affinity with the foot soldier, the pilot and sailor is palpable. One reads at times with a bitter taste. And, one senses a tempered view as to the mediocrity in the Allied military leadership. His admiration for Patton, however, is manifest; his military and tactical genius is found to be "nimbler, surer and relentless." After reading Caesar's Gallic Wars, the night before he crosses the Rhine, Patton "could smell the sweat of the legions."

Atkinson avoids repetition even though for long passages the battles and incidents might give way to repetition and wordy overuse. His descriptive powers are in full view, page after page; e.g. "the warm midday sun spangled the dark canal and the irrigation ditches running north to Holland" "[l]oamy fields trailed by olive-drap clouds of rifleman; the Ardennes are "coniferous;" Market Garden "an epic cock up;" a British general is "a high strung mustache twirler;" Germany is "this vortex, this gyre of flame, the destroyer of worlds;" Marseille - "the German masterpiece of ruination; "[t]he need to overcome Allied infighting is defined by Ike as "a collaborative forbearance;"and engineers are described as "blue with cold. "

One gasps reading the letter from a pregnant wife writing to her deceased husband "beyond the grave; "you shall always be vibrantly alive .... I hope God will let me be happy, not wildly, consumingly happy as I was with you, I will miss you so much--your hands, your kiss, your body..."

Atkinson's grasp of the statistics of war stuns; the death counts, the troop and ships numbers, the manufacturing might of the American homeland and the dead, "[o]f all German boys born between 1915 and 1924, one third were dead or missing." He brings insight to the failed 1944 onslaught for Antwerp, the Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge and the particulars of the actual surrender on May 7, 1945. He is generous to even the vain, supercilious and insufferable Montgomery - "as responsible as any man for the victory in Normandy."

His reading and reliance on other historians is extensive and thorough; Moran on Churchill, Hastings on the Battle for Germany, Ambrose and Beevor for D Day, Plothy on Yalta, MacDonald on the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge and Bastogne. His epilogue - the last five pages - can be read over and over and looked on as the work of genius.

Atkinson has written another award winning book. And rightly so !
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